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.