The Open Adoption

A Birth Father's Journey

Non-Fiction - Memoir
230 Pages
Reviewed on 10/09/2014
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

As the owner of Rizzo Productions, Darrick Rizzo helps many high school athletes prepare to make their college dreams come true. He understands the importance of networking and never misses a chance to make connections. While on the job, Darrick once met the Chief of Security of the Baltimore Ravens and tucked his business card into his pocket. Years later, when he needed a foreword for his dramatic new book, The Open Adoption, that card would lead Darrick to connect with Michael Oher, NFL Super Bowl Champion with the Baltimore Ravens and featured in the film,The Blind Side. Apart from meeting the champion offensive tackle, and sharing his inspiring story, Darrick also proved the importance of the mantra he now shares with students all across the country:
“First you must find COURAGE, then you must accept CHANGE, now you are ready to NETWORK, but always know OBSTACLES will come along during your JOURNEY TO SUCCESS.”
Now one of the first birth fathers to speak out about adoption, Darrick blogs at two national adoption agencies: and Thousands of adoptive parents, birth parents and adoptees are reading these blogs and finding inspiration and answers to their questions. Darrick is excited to share his insights and experience with open adoption and to show the birth father's perspective in the adoption triad. As a successful businessman, father, mentor and community leader, Darrick pays it forward by speaking out and motivating others. With Rizzo Productions, he facilitates new connections between parents, high school athletes and college coaches making sure the athletes put their best foot forward with video portfolios.

Darrick Rizzo Writes and Speaks on these topics:Open Adoption,Birth Father Rights, Communicating with Adoptive Parents, Keeping in Touch with Adopted Children.

Slam Magazine called Darrick Rizzo "The Kobe Bryant stopper" holding Kobe to his lowest high school basketball game, a total of 8 points. For the past ten years, Darrick has also worked with programs like My Brothers Keeper and the Big Brother as a drug and alcohol mentor for troubled youth.

All these experiences have inspired Darrick to become a Motivational and Transformation Speaker and Blogger, empowering others to overcome obstacles and find success. Darrick understands the power of positive thinking and is grateful to be able to share this understanding with thousands of students through keynote speeches, as well as his life-lessons in adoption through national adoption agencies. Darrick knows no matter what’s going on, there’s nothing you can’t handle. Everything is possible. You can turn your pain into something positive. Join him in his outspoken and jubilant slogan:

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Allen Petrick for Readers' Favorite

"Being a birth parent in the adoption world can be difficult. It is hard to talk or write about." So confides Darrick C. Rizzo, author of The Open Adoption. That difficulty takes on a special meaning for birth fathers, silent voices rarely heard regarding the messy issue of domestic adoption. My hopes, when I picked up The Open Adoption, were that Rizzo would break a powerful hole through this silence. And my hopes were not disappointed.

Darrick Rizzo was an eighteen-year-old African American college freshman and track and field star when he and Sherri, his white high school sweetheart (a girls' basketball star) found that she was pregnant. The couple's relationship had strengthened during interracial struggles in their western Washington state small town, and Darrick was ready to marry Sherri sooner rather than later and do whatever it would take to care for his family. But five months into the pregnancy, under pressure from her family and a desire to follow through with her own career, Sherri decided she was not. She demanded that Darrick agree to give up their child to an open adoption.

"Finally," Rizzo writes, "I said the words that still sting today, 'I will give up my baby boy, my only boy, my son, because I love you, Sherri.' At such a young age, I lost both my first love and my first born."

The Open Adoption then goes on to movingly chronicle sixteen years of a father's attempt to keep track of his son, of hopes dashed and reconciliation emerging from the most unexpected of places. What emerges is a deep look into the heart of a father. Fathers, and men in general, seem to be fading out as a voice and presence in American life today. Darrick C. Rizzo has written about adoption, but he has spoken to so much more. The Open Adoption is not a sob story. It is a "straight up" saga of promises, betrayal, responsibility and perseverance. Get it. Read it. And ponder what one American father has to say.


The Open Adoption is impossible to put down! The courage and perseverance of the writer is almost unbelievable but the photos can't lie. Or can they??? Don't want to spoil a great read for anyone, so I will just recommend this book to anyone who has a heart and likes suspense.

Debra Praster

I enjoyed reading this book. I couldn't put it down until I was finished. What a amazing story.


An amazing inspirational story.


The Open Adoption is a story that is nothing short of amazing! As the reader you are granted access into a very personal life long journey of a man who has experienced emotional turmoil and profound adversity throughout the course of his life, but has managed to emerge a stronger man.

When we think of the topic of adoption and its emotional impact on the individual relinquishing parental rights, typically we think of the mother. However, the author breaks the mold in allowing the reader to consider the birth father's experience in the equation. In a society where men are socialized to internalize their emotions and avoid expressing sorrow and sadness, Rizzo reveals these raw emotions proving that men, not only women experience immense difficulty as well when it comes to the decision of adoption. Hearing this experience from a birth father pouring his heart out in such an honest and candid manner was refreshing and a break from the norm.

The Open Adoption is raw. It is honest, detailed, and written with clarity. And although the book centers around the topic of adoption, anyone can identify with Rizzo's story in some capacity and take something meaningful away from his story through lessons of faith, forgiveness, unconditional love, and overcoming obstacles in life. By far, this is truly one of the most influential books I have read in years.

Elena Charles

Well-written, emotional story. I feel honored to know Darrick through his business, Rizzo Productions. Even before I ever heard him utter a word about this book, I felt energized every time I heard him speak to student athletes at basketball sporting events. He has a natural ability to make people feel comfortable. He is a 100% trustworthy man. This book shows a side of Darrick's personality that proves he is a genuinely compassionate person. His difficult journey to find his son, and the fact that he continued to search for his son and never gave up is a true testament to his faith in God. His faith and the proof that God works in His way is shown in this book. This is a must read book for anyone who is considering adoption. Darrick, you're an amazing role model.

Megan Rogers

This is a must read, I could not put this book down. An amazing story from a father's journey to find his son. I was in tears several times throughout the book , you can feel the emotions as you read every page. Being a parent is the hardest job many of us will ever take on and we all go through different obstacles , I found it inspiring for the author to be honest and share his experience to help others that may be on this same journey. Powerful story of unconditional love and forgiveness.

Billy Mcdonough Jr.

What an amazing story about faith, courage, and love! Oprah will be calling soon, this story is just too inspirational.

Jeremy Vogt

This is a must read book for any father who is considering giving their child up for adoption. Being a father of 4 children I cant imagine what he went through. I could not put this book down once I started reading it. Darrick's story is a motivational one and makes me want to be an even better father to my children. His belief in God and his never give up attitude really tugs at your heart strings. I would recommend this book for anyone who is unsure if they want to go through the adoption process or not.

Catherine E.

I really enjoyed this book. This book is not just about adoption--it's about how one man does not give up and how he follows his faith in God, and about forgiving people when they do wrong to you. I think the author makes it clear that he's not perfect and that regardless of the situation, we should forgive people.

Sherri L. Doebler

I read hundreds of books and this was truly an amazing story. I read it in less than a day because I couldn't put it down! It is unique to have the perspective of the birth father and hear his journey unfold with so many life lessons and blessings along the way. Faith, perseverance, and forgiveness....qualities that are sometimes difficult to possess, but are also the most rewarding, are what brings Darrick through his incredible journey. An inspiring book and a must read!

Michelle Robinson

This is the second time I've read this book. I got it at an adoption conference from the author before it was published. I'm so happy it's finally on Amazon so that everyone else can have the opportunity to read this amazing story of the author's faith, perseverance and love. His story gave me goose bumps from the very beginning and many times I found myself with tears in my eyes. It is so touching and heartwarming to hear from the birthfather about his struggles with his decision and the amount of love he has for his son. The author makes you feel as though you are traveling his journey with him. This book will definitely give you a new perspective on adoption and birthfathers.

Jim Mextorf

Just finished the book. What a great story and message. I give Darrick so much credit for documenting all of his experiences over the years, keeping his faith and resolve and finally, having the courage to share it with the public. I couldn't put the book down once I picked it up. Darrick is a true inspiration and the pure love for his son is undeniable. The line that hit me the hardest was, ".....but God writes the stories of our lives, not us." Very, very true. Well done.

Janice Todd

Darrick, I loved reading The Open Adoption. You filleted your heart before all the readers and I was able to feel the anguish, the hurt, disappointment, the betrayal and the yearning for the fulfillment of that promise. Like a hayride you pulled us along with you on the journey marking every milestone. I think I ran that 5K with you! Thank you for your courage, such raw feelings in ink. I couldn't wait to turn each page. The inclusion of the adoptive mother's chapter was genius. The incite provided reminded us all of the crippling grip of fear. Your belief in God and love of family was genuinely woven throughout. Your trust in the ultimate "Promise Keeper" had, has, and will always have great rewards. The Open Adoption, moving and real.
( I need my autograph!)

Nikki Thomas

WOW! This story about open adoption truly is amazing. You seldom hear about the birth fathers in these kind of situations. It was very interesting to see things from his point of view. The birth father showed incredible persistence, and a genuine love for his son throughout the book. Although he desperately wanted and needed to know his son's whereabouts, and get the chance to meet him, he always kept HIS best interests in mind (and heart). Can’t say the same for the adoptive mother. What kind of person looks a young couple in the face, makes promises to them, and then feels that they have the right to renege on those promises? Although, in her chapter she explains that her actions, or lack thereof, were driven by fear they come across as selfish to me.
I was saddened by the ending. This book is a great read, I finished it in two days, and completely agree with the many mentions that it should be made into a movie!!

Mark Strong

An AWESOME read.
Would make a GREAT MOVIE !

Barbary Chaapel

I received my copy of Derrick Rizzo's book from my Honorary Daughter, Christy. I found Derrick's story to be very forthright. I applaud him for his perseverance.
And hope to meet him one day.

Lena Marckini

Such an inspiring and heart wrenching story from an amazing father's perspective, raw, and truthful! God bless this incredible father as he shares his journey of trials and tribulations on never giving up on his precious birth son.

Eric Anderson

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of this book and have done freelance writing for a PR agency that has Darrick Rizzo as a client. I enjoyed the book and talking with Darrick about his open adoption experience and his efforts to reconnect with his baby boy.

The story is worthwhile reading for birth parents, potential adoptive parents, and teens in open adoptions. Anyone who wants to know more about persistence, overcoming life's obstacles, and forgiving others will also enjoy the book.

I recommend it highly.

Jaime Koons

This book is well organized and easy to read. I really liked that the adoptive mother told her side of the story in the final chapter. This is definitely a great read for anyone who has been through or is going to go through the adoptive process, particularly open adoption. The book touched on many aspects of adoption that I never knew existed and made me realize how difficult it would be to agree on the terms of an open adoption and how there is not much recourse if one side does not adhere to their verbal promises.


Inspiring book by a genuine person who truly lived the experience. It mentioned in the book that this tale would make an excellent Lifetime Movie and I concur. It was surely a story worth telling and sharing with others. What a wonderful book of memories to share with your son and show him that he is loved.