Years ago, nearly all adoptions were closed. A closed adoption means that there is no contact of any kind between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child after the adoption takes place. In fact, usually that means there has also been no contact before the adoption. Often this makes it very difficult for an adoptee to find his or her biological parents in adulthood. Closed adoptions are no longer as common as they once were. Today, there is a strong trend toward open adoptions, in which all the parties to an adoption meet and often remain in each other’s lives to some extent.
Much more commonly today an adoption will be open. Many people believe open adoption is a type of adoption relationship in which the adoptive family and birth parents have personal visits with one another, and the birth mother is able to maintain a relationship with the child. This is an example of open adoption, but not the only example.
Generally, open adoption refers to any adoption relationship between the adoptive family and birth parents in which identifiable information, as well as contact are shared between both parties.
An open adoption can be a lot of things; there are a wide variety of open adoptions. Usually the process involves adoptive parents meeting and typically staying in touch with the birthparents post placement. Sometimes the post placement contact is more limited. For example, it might only include the exchange of updates and pictures via email or a third party.
Most adoption agencies now encourage some degree of openness. As a general matter today, birth parents have a voice in choosing their child’s adoptive parents. Often the decision is entirely up to the birth parents. Commonly, the agency or law firm will provide profiles of prospective adoptive parents to an expectant mother and the expectant mother will choose the family she is most comfortable with.
It is common for birth parents and adoptive parents to meet and to stay in touch frequently during the pregnancy. Many times, the adoptive parents can witness their child’s birth. Some families stay in touch through their adoption agency, especially on birthdays and holidays. Others become and remain friends. No two adoptions, and no two open adoptions, ever look quite the same.
Benefits of an Open Adoption
For both birth parents and adoptive parents, the open adoption process can remove the mystery from the adoption process and can permit a greater degree of control in the decision-making process. An open adoption allows adoptive parents to answer their children’s questions about who their birthparents were, and why they were adopted. Open adoptions can also help the child come to terms with being adopted, because the child’s concerns can be addressed directly by everyone who was involved in the adoption process.
While many adoptive parents are tentative about openness, statistically speaking, open adoptions have proven to be successful in most cases and are healthy for most adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees. It removes a lot of the mystery behind adoptions.
Choosing an open or a closed adoption is just one question among many that you’ll face in the adoption process. We can help you weigh the pros and cons of open and closed adoptions so you can make the right decision for your family.