Open Adoption: What Does It Mean?

Adding a child to the family through the adoption process can be a thrilling, fulfilling, and happy experience. However, the adoption process is not as simple as some people think. In fact, there are many different types of adoption, and the rules that are involved with each type may vary. These are things that should be considered before choosing to adopt because adoptions are such significant, life-changing moments for the adopting parent(s) and the child. I am very interested in adoption, so I decided to do a little research on one specific type of adoption, open adoption. Here’s what I found.

I first stumbled across an excellent article by BB Law Group PLLC. The article explains that open adoption is a type of adoption where the adoptive parents and birth parents arrange an agreement that specifies that the child is permitted to keep contact with the birth parent after adoption. Under other forms of adoption, this type of conduct is not allowed.

The historical background of open adoption is very interesting. In the United States before the 1900s, most adoptions were open adoptions. Thus, open adoption is not really a new thing, at least in the United States. However, the main rationales for adoption have changed significantly since the 1900s. During that time, children were adopted out of a family to reduce the number of children their birth parents had to support, and they were adopted into a family to serve as an apprentice to the adopting families. Adoption was a mutually beneficial process for different reasons, and contact with the birth parents was the norm.

Open adoption became less frequent in the 1930s, but it again gained popularity as a type of adoption in the 1970s. During the 70s, several studies purported that open adoption was better for the child. The popularity of open adoption continued to grow. In the 90s, open adoption was offered by a majority of adoption agencies in the United States. The Washington Times found in a 2012 study that 95 percent of United States adoptions have some level of openness between the adoptive parents and the birth parents.

Open adoption gives the birth parents the ability to meet adoptive parents. It allows birth parents to maintain a relationship with the child as he or she gets older. Basically, open adoption is a good way to give birth parents the peace of mind that their child will be properly cared for and loved.

Likewise, adoptive parents get the benefit of meeting the birth parents in an open adoption. To be selected and chosen by the birth parents is a rewarding and validating experience for adopting parents. Open adoption seems to have many positive effects on the birth parents, the adopting parents, and the adopted children. Though, as the previously-mentioned article states, open adoption is only permitted under certain circumstances.

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