Open Adoption

Unfortunately, fertility treatments are not successful for every couple. If you and your partner have decided to end fertility treatments, you may be considering other options to help add to your family. Adoption is a wonderful way of providing a child with a loving and happy home. Open adoption is becoming increasingly popular amongst adoptive parents and birth parents. It allows for unique relationships to be established between you, your adopted child, and his birthparents. So if you are considering adoption, think about the possibilities provided by open adoption.

What is Open Adoption?

Open adoption is fast becoming one of the most popular types of adoption available in North America. It allows the birth parents and the adoptive parents to establish a closer relationship than that provided by a closed domestic adoption. The birth parents are able to choose the adoptive family based on their own judgment and criteria while the adoptive parents are allowed access to personal information, including the family and medical history of the birth parents. Open adoption typically involves an ongoing relationship between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptive child, which may include telephone calls, emails, or family visits.

History of Open Adoption

Open adoption is a fairly recent development. Before open adoptions, closed adoptions were the only choice for birth and adoptive parents’. Closed adoptions began in 1917, when it was decided that all documents regarding birth parents should be sealed. This meant that adoptive parents knew very little information about their adoptive child’s social or medical past. However, closed adoptions worked to respect the privacy of many birth parents in a time when adoption was not fully accepted.

Between 1940 and 1970, closed adoption was the norm. However, as adoption became more accepted, birth parents and adoptive parents began to wonder if closed adoption was truly benefiting adoptive children. Many adoptive parents wanted their children to know where they came from, and many birth parents wanted to be able to share this information with their children. As a result, open adoptions began in the 1980s.

Degrees of Openness

Not all open adoptions are created equal. There are varying degrees of openness from adoption to adoption, and it is important to consider this before entering into an open adoption. Typically, there are two types of open adoptions:

Fully Open Adoption: A fully open adoption typically involves an ongoing personal relationship between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. The birth parents personally select the adoptive parents and have face-to-face contact with them prior to the adoption. A complete exchange of personal information takes place in a fully open adoption, including contact information. The birth parents retain a relationship with the child and the adoptive parents after the adoption takes place.

Semi-Open Adoption: A semi-open, or modified, adoption differs from an open adoption in that the birth parents do not play as active a role. Birth parents may choose the adoptive parents or they may allow an agency to choose for them, based on certain criteria. The birth parents may or may not meet with the adoptive parents prior to adoption. After adoption, the birth parents may ask to receive pictures or letters about their child, but will likely not be involved in personal visits.

Table of Contents
1. Open Adoption
2. Why open adoption?
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