Adoption is a transformative process that creates a parental relationship to a child that is not biologically related to you. If you are considering adopting a child, you will learn that there are many possible adoption routes available to you, including closed and open adoption. Open adoption is considered the standard in the vast majority of adoptions today. There are many benefits to open adoption, which we will discuss here.
What Is Open Adoption?
First, it is important to understand what we mean when we talk about open adoption. Open adoption is a kind of adoption that allows for contact between the birth parent or parents and the adopted child and adoptive parents. In a closed adoption, on the other hand, the adoptive parents and adopted child will have no contact with the child’s biological parents and often will not have access to information about the child’s biological parents. Closed adoptions were once the norm, but now they are much rarer.
There are two primary kinds of open adoption:
- Fully open adoption – the birth parents and/or families will have direct contact with the adoptive parents and child, often on an ongoing basis throughout the child’s life.
- Semi-open or mediated adoption – any contact will be facilitated by an agency, caseworker, or attorney, who will serve as a go-between, passing letters and photographs between the birth parents and adoptive family.
The details of an open adoption can vary, but usually it will entail the following:
- Birth parents will have some contact with the adopted child and adoptive parents, which will be negotiated according to the comfort levels of all involved.
- Birth family members may also have contact with both the adoptive family.
- The birth parent or parents may participate in selecting their child’s adoptive parents.
- The child will grow up knowing they were adopted.
- Contact may take place through various means, including letters, calls, emails, or visits.
However, an open adoption does not mean that the adoptive parents and birth parents will share parenting responsibilities for the adopted child. The adoptive process severs the legal parenting relationship between birth parents and child and establishes permanent legal parental rights and responsibilities upon the adoptive parents to raise the adopted child as they see fit.
Advantages of an Open Adoption
Open adoption – whether fully open or mediated – is now the norm, in part because there are so many documented benefits to openness when it comes to adoption, especially for the child.
A Link to Their Heritage
An open adoption grants adopted children links to their biological history. Whether we are adopted or not, a connection to our heritage and ancestry can often help us understand who we are as we situate ourselves as individuals in a larger world. Many adoptees from closed adoptions experience difficulties because they are disconnected from the biological ties that link them to their roots. Open adoptions spare adopted children the pain and confusion of not knowing where and who they come from and helps them experience higher self-esteem and more clarity and confidence around issues of identity and belonging.
Answers About Their Adoption
Adopted children will likely have questions about their adoption history at some point in their life. A connection to a child’s birth parents can help adoptive parents answer these questions with honesty, sensitivity, and compassion. Whereas in the past, most adoptions were closed and secret, research has shown that this kind of adoption often caused problems for adopted children, including a sense of shame around being adopted and/or heightened feelings of abandonment. Access to a child’s adoption story also makes the desire to search for their birth parents, which can be a financially and emotionally exhausting process for adult adoptees, a non-issue.
Access to Medical Information
In the past, adoptees often lacked basic access to their biological family’s medical history. A child’s family medical record can be a vital piece of information as adoptive parents attempt to make informed decisions on behalf of their child’s health and well-being. Furthermore, as a child grows into an adult, they will likely want to share their medical family history with their doctors, particularly in consideration to predisposed.
Ultimately, knowledge is, as they say, power, and open adoptions offer both birth and adoptive families the shared knowledge, understanding, and support to help an adopted child thrive. Open adoptions offer children an opportunity to understand that not only are they are cherished, loved, and supported by their adoptive parents, but also that their birth parents remain connected to and supportive of them as they grow into adulthood.
As in any relationship, however, open and honest communication is vital in an open adoption. It is important to set clear expectations and boundaries around contact and to understand that these expectations can shift as time and circumstances change over time. Above all, the safety and well-being of the child must be paramount.
If you are considering adoption in Colorado, a compassionate and experienced adoption attorney can help alleviate some of the stress and worry involved in that process. A knowledgeable attorney can draft and file the necessary paperwork, represent the adoptive parents at any hearings or court appearances, and ensure that adoptive parents have access to the child’s health records.
Our family law attorneys we are committed to helping you to navigate the legal requirements involved in the adoption process. Contact Clawson & Clawson, LLP, at (719) 602-5888 to schedule a free consultation.