Open Adoption Services or Closed: Four Things You Need to Understand Before Deciding

Posted on: November 20th 2014

Adoption used to be something that was done quietly. Often, children would not know they were adopted until they were older. As adults, these adoptees might choose to seek their birth parents, with varying degrees of success. Today, the world of adoption is much more open. Families celebrate adoption and many adoptees have an ongoing relationship with their birth parents. As you create an adoption plan and choose between open and closed adoption services, here are some things to consider.

Open Adoption Can Mean Many Things
If you choose an open adoption, you and the adoptive family work together to create a plan for future contact. Some birth mothers want to have regular visits with the child over the years. Others want to see the child’s photos as he or she grows up. Still others prefer that contact remain open, but they do not have regular visits or contact with the family. An open adoption keeps the lines of information and communication open, but you design your plans for future contact so that you feel comfortable.

There Are Many Laws Around Closed Adoption
While closed adoption used to mean that the birth parents’ rights were terminated and that the birth parents did not necessarily know who adopted the child, in many states the laws have changed to make it easier for adoptees to learn more about their birth parents. In the past, if you chose closed adoption you needed a court order to unseal the adoption records. Today, some states allow adoptees to see the records once they turn 18. Closed adoption does not always mean that all of the records of the adoption are closed to the adoptee.

Context is Important
You probably know something about your family history. You may know where your ancestors came from and how they got to the place where you were born. You may know about the diseases that have run in your family over the years, so you can take precautions to avoid getting these diseases yourself. You’ve heard your family stories over and over again. While adopted children create new family stories and family histories with their adoptive family, many children and adult adoptees find it helpful to know about their birth parents’ medical, genetic, cultural, and family history as well. Even without ongoing contact with the birth parents, that information can help an adopted child understand where he or she came from. In an open adoption, this information is available should the adoptee choose to access it.

Getting Support
As a birth mother, an adoptee, or adoptive parent, adoption is part of your identiy, part of your life story. Birth parents, adopted children, and adoptive parents all need support during the adoption process. Whether you choose closed or open adoption, you will need a network of supportive professionals, family members, and friends as you create your adoption plan.

Are you thinking of making an adoption plan? Speak with Family Formation today about your options for an open adoption. Call us for a free consultation: 925-945-1880.