The Option of Open Adoption
Open adoption is a form of adoption that allows and maintains a continuous relationship between the birth family, adoptee, and the adoptive family. Having a fully open adoption can allow inclusion of extended relatives such as siblings and birth grandparents.
There are different reasons to consider an open adoption:
• To prevent or minimize any loss of relationships in the child’s life.
• To keep and celebrate any connections the child has to people that are important in his or her life.
• To have the child resolve any losses with the truth, instead of having the child create a fantasy that many adopted children often have when they do not have any contact or information their birth family.
There are many levels of openness in open adoption. There are often incorrectly considered open adoption, but in reality these options tend to be less open. Sometimes they may mean that the birth parents and adoptive parents have each other’s contact information. It may also mean that they exchange photographs and letters, which may or may not be done through a third party.
Regardless of the level of openness in an adoption, both the birth parents and adoptive parents need to have open lines of communication and the same understanding of just what is allowed and not allowed in the open adoption. Furthermore, both sets need to be committed to meeting if not exceeding the child’s needs throughout his or her life.
Family members will interact in means that are most comfortable to them and other parties involved. This can be through:
• Phone calls
The frequency of these interactions is typically negotiated between the parties. The frequency can range from every few years many times a month or weekly or even more than that. The amount of contact can vary depending on the child’s age and any questions he or she may have about the adoption. Regardless of the agreement in an open adoption, it is important to realize that there is no legal relationship between a child and birth parent s. The legal parents of an adopted child are the adoptive parents.
There are many different things to consider about an open adoption before going through with it. Families need to figure out how much a child will know about a birth family and how much of a relationship they want the child to have. Some questions to think of include:
• How old should a child be when contact with a birth family starts?
• What happens in a situation where a party breaks off contact completely?
• What is the role of the birth parents?
• How will the child explain with the relationship with the birth relatives to peers?