Adoption has changed dramatically in the past few decades as more birth parents, and the adoptive families they choose, pursue a new level of communication and closeness. Open adoption, once rare, allows birth parents and adoptive parents to keep in touch at a level that works for them. For some, this may mean the occasional email or photo. For others, it’s a phone date on birthdays. Some even visit regularly in person, forging a bond that’s more like that of extended family.
At its most basic, however, open adoption means identifiable information is shared at birth, or at the time of the adoption, and then followed up with contact.
Before the 1980s, closed adoption was the norm. Secrecy often surrounded adoption, with birth mothers going away to deliver their babies and knowing little or nothing about where they were placed. Adoptive families lacked important information about their child’s background and medical history. And children placed for adoption were sometimes left with unanswerable questions about where they came from and the circumstances of their birth.
Now, with domestic infant adoption, birth families choose the adoptive family and are able to state from the start how much contact they wish to have. A good adoption agency will then find prospective adoptive parents who are comfortable with that level of contact. Closed adoptions still exist, as do semi-open adoptions, where an intermediary, often the adoption agency, passes on updates without direct contact between the birth and adoptive families. Open adoptions are not an option if there’s a potential danger to the child.
For adoptive parents, establishing the level of openness they’d be comfortable with is an important early consideration—one that may influence the type of adoption they pursue.
For adoptive parents who want to maintain privacy and have a sense of closure surrounding the adoption, a closed adoption may be the right choice. International adoptions are often, by default, closed, though it is possible, in some cases, to research origins.
Other parents may like the prospect of creating bonds with their child’s birth parents, each respecting the unique role they play in the child’s life. An open adoption may also allow children to create relationships with birth siblings or grandparents—growing their family and the number of people who care about them.
Some adoptive parents may be unsure how they feel about communication with the birth family, but they are comfortable with the potential advantages to the child—a known medical history, an understanding of heritage, and an understanding of family background and the reasons behind the birth parents’ decision.
It’s now understood that openness does not undermine the child’s relationship with adoptive parents. And no matter the path chosen—open or closed—there is no legal threat of birth parents attempting to reclaim their child. In fact, many birth parents feel more confident that they made the right decision after seeing their child thrive in a loving home. But, as a potential adoptive parent, it’s important to communicate early on what level of contact you’re comfortable with and set boundaries though an adoption agreement.
The Marietta adoption attorneys at Bivek, Brubaker & Prescott LLC have years of experience dealing with all types of adoption cases. We can help you understand the process and proceed on a sound legal footing. Contact us or call (404) 793-6530 today to speak with one of our highly qualified adoption attorneys.