Open Adoption - Where Do I Start?

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An increasing number of adoption professionals feel that openness between the birthparents, adoptive parents, and the child benefits the child and often all parties involved. Information can be exchanged directly or indirectly. The placing parents can do some anticipatory grieving for their loss, while the adopting parents can prepare to bond immediately with their baby.
Long-term research on families who have open adoption placements suggests that there are several important benefits to openness:
  • Adoptive families generally report that they do not fear that the birthparents (who know them and the child) will return to claim the child.
  • Parents report that their children do not display confusion about who is the parent.
  • Children can ask the difficult questions directly about the reasons they were placed for adoption.
  • Birthparents report a confidence in the rightness of their very difficult decisions when they have the security of knowing the adoptive parents and knowing how the child is doing.

Openness in adoption means that birthparents and adoptive parents have some knowledge about one another. The birthparents know something about the adoptive parents and may even help choose them. Adoptive parents and their children know medical and genetic information about the birth family and other information that might help in dealing with the emotional issues that often accompany adoption.

While informal open adoptions have occurred for centuries, where relatives or close family friends raised children not born to them but whose parents were known to them, the concept of formal open adoption is quite new — less than 20 years old. Openness can mean that placing parents may choose a couple or person they feel would give their baby a good home. They may never meet the adopters, and this may be their only contact with them. At the other end of the openness spectrum, placing parents may meet the adoptive parents, visit their home, and have ongoing contact throughout the child's life. The degree of openness usually depends on the comfort level of both the birthparents and adoptive parents.

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