Open vs. Closed Adoption

Not too long ago, almost all adoptions were closed. There was no contact of any sort between the two set of parents. The birth parents did not have any contact with the child after the adoption. The trend nowadays is towards open adoption. The birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child often meet and remain part of each other’s lives.

Closed Adoptions

Closed adoptions are becoming increasingly rare these days. It used to be the norm in the past. The adoptive parents would put their name on the list and a social worker would then match them with a child. The adoptive parents will know nothing about the child’s background or the child’s birth family. Once the adoption is finalized, the files are sealed. Even if the two set of parents knew each other, they generally do not stay in touch post adoption. The child may never know that he or she was adopted. Most international adoptions are closed adoptions.

Open Adoption

Open adoptions are those in which expectant and prospective adoptive parents identify (find) each other and then obtain the services of an independent adoption facilitator or adoption agency in arranging and finalizing an adoption.

Identified adoptions begin with “openness,” which refers to face-to-face contact between the birth and adoptive families of the child. Open contact may be frequent or infrequent, through letters or telephone calls or through personal visits, and may or may not involve exchanging complete identifying information.

Pros and Cons of Open Adoption

Open adoption offers greater degree of self determination and choice compared to other adoptions. This type of adoption allows for ongoing contact between all the concerned parties. The child gets answers to questions about his or her background.

Open adoptions are not always rosy. Sometimes the adoptive parents may feel threatened with the level of contact between the child and the birth parents. They may then try to limit the contact. Sometimes, the adoptive parents may cease all contact with the birth parents. The child may be unsure as to who is the “real parent”.

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