Adopting a child is a wonderful, exciting decision. You have chosen to provide a child with a loving home filled with safety and stability.
When you are going through the adoption process, you will need to decide if you would like to have an open adoption. Open adoption is a continuum, ranging from providing updates to having visits. An open adoption allows you to legally adopt a child, while still allowing the child to have contact with their birth parents and/or for the birth parents to receive updates about the child.
You may be initially hesitant to have an open adoption, especially if your adoptive child came from a neglectful or abusive household, was abandoned by their birth parents or the birth parents struggle with drug or alcohol issues.
Most adoptions today are open adoptions
If you are in this situation, there are still many reasons you should consider an open adoption. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, 95% of adoptions today are open adoptions. It is overwhelmingly the most common type of adoption.
Many birth parents are aware of the challenges in their life that led them to choose to have their child adopted by another family. Although they know that it is the best choice for their child, they still love their child and want to know how the child is developing and sometimes maintain contact and some form of a relationship with them.
Two types of open adoptions
You can choose the type of open adoption you want. A fully open adoption allows you and the birth parents to exchange contact information and have direct communication with each other. This may include visits.
In a semi-open adoption, contact between you and the birth parents take place through a third-party. This can be an attorney, caseworker at an agency or other third party that both of you agree upon.
Benefits for you
There are many benefits of an open adoption for both you and your adoptive child. One of the biggest advantages is that you will have access to updated background and medical information for your child.
An open adoption also allows you and the child’s birth parents to develop a bond and connection that lasts throughout the child’s life. You gain a sense of confidence and satisfaction in knowing that you are helping the child maintain a relationship with their birth family.
Many parents of adopted children live with the fear that birth parents will one day come and try to take the child back. This is not legally possible. An open adoption that allows communication amount everyone involved can alleviate this fear.
Benefits for your child
Adoptive children who do not know their biological parents can struggle with a sense of identity or belonging. An open adoption can prevent these feelings and help them maintain a connection with their own unique cultural or ethnic background.
Another issue adoptive children often experience is feelings of abandonment from not understanding why their parents “gave them up.” An open adoption involving communication with their birth family lets them learn the reasons for the adoption and can reduce these negative feelings.
Although closed adoptions still exist, they have become rare in recent decades as these and other benefits of an open adoption have become apparent. If you have questions about what type of adoption is best for you, an attorney with a practice focused on adoption can provide valuable advice.