What Is An Open Adoption?

If you've decided to give your child up for adoption, you'll likely be asked if you're interested in keeping the adoption open. But what exactly is an open adoption?

What is an open adoption?

In the past, there was a great deal of secrecy around adoptions. Many young women were told to keep their situation to themselves, and the adoptive families were given little, if any, information on the child's biological parents. These adoptions were closed, meaning the records were sealed and everyone's privacy was protected.

Closed adoptions are still common, but nowadays open adoptions actually account for over 60 percent of domestic adoptions. In a partially open adoption, the birth parents may receive periodic letters and pictures as the child grows. Likewise, the adoptive family will be able to pass on letters and pictures from the birth parents to the child. These letters may first be sent to the adoption agency to then distribute to the families, or they may be sent directly to the recipients.

In a fully open adoption, the birth parents are able to play some role in the child's life. They are able to see the child in person, though the frequency of contact will vary based on each situation. Some adoptive families may only be comfortable with once a year visits, while others may welcome more involvement in the child's life.

What are the benefits for all parties involved?

Open adoptions can be very beneficial for all three members of the adoption triad-- the birth family, adoptive family, and the adoptee. The birth parents may experience less guilt and fear over the adoption if they're offered the opportunity to watch the child grow and maintain a relationship. The adoptive family benefits by knowing the child's full medical history, and the child is able to see where they came from and have any questions surrounding their adoption answered.

What are the drawbacks?

Open adoptions can create very blurry boundaries. The adoptive family may feel the birth parents are too involved in the child's life, and the child may feel confused about who their parents are. It can take a lot of work from both the birth and adoptive parents to set and maintain clear, concise boundaries that everyone can be comfortable with.

In spite of the drawbacks, open adoptions are a wonderful option for those looking to give up a child for adoption without losing all contact. Talk with an adoption agency, like http://www.achildsdream.org, to see what option works best for your situation.