Openness in Adoption: Fact Sheet

An open adoption allows the adoptive parents and the adopted child to have direct contact with the birth parents. They can interact with one another in a manner that is most comfortable to them including visits, telephone calls, emails and letters. The frequency of contact can be negotiated. The contacts could be several times a month or even once in few years. A the child grows, the frequency of contact can change. An open adoption like any other adoption terminates the legal relationship between the child and the birth parents. For all legal purposes, the adoptive parents are the child’s legal parents.

The benefits of open adoption are:

• The loss of relationship between the child and the birth parents are minimized
• It allows the child to maintain connections with the important people in his or her life
• The child can deal with the adoption better because he or she is better informed

Choosing an Open Adoption

Besides an open adoption, there are other types of adoptions ranging from fully open to closed adoptions. There is also the mediated or semi-open adoption where the contact between the adoptive parents and the birth parents is through a third party. In a closed adoption, there is absolutely no contact.

Flexibility coupled with a commitment to the relationship is vital for the success of an open adoption. It can have its ups and downs and is not the best option for every family. For open adoption to work, all involved must be committed to making the adoption work.

Factors to consider

If you are considering an open adoption, you must decide on how much of information will you disclose to the child about the birth family. Seek the assistance of an adoption professional. Here are some other factors you should consider:

• When should the child be included in contact with the birth family?
• What happens if you or the birth family decide to stop all contact?
• What role with the birth parents play in the child’s life?
• What will the child tell his friends and peers about the relationship with the birth parents?
• How will you deal with other siblings, born or adopted?

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