When creating an adoption plan, a birth mother has to decide where she fits in her child’s life. Will there be continued involvement? What will this look like – regular phone calls, letters, or in-person visits? Is there be any communication at all? These questions can be difficult to answer so early in the adoption process, but they are important considerations.
Three Types of Adoption
There are generally three types of adoption. In an Open Adoption, both parents and adoptive parents exchange identifying information about each other and have ongoing contact. In a Semi-Open Adoption, most or all communications between the adoptive parents and birth parents is facilitated by an adoption agency to preserve identifying information. And in a Closed Adoption, birth parents and adoptive parents do not meet and do not share any identifying information.
A Closer Look at Open Adoption
“The confidentiality that once defined adoption is no longer the norm,” says Eliza Newlin Carney, Adoptive Families. Nowadays, open adoptions are becoming more and more prevalent. According to Jennifer Fairfax LLC, 95 percent of adoptions today are either open or semi-open, and for good reason. When there is complete buy in from both birth parents and adoptive parents, an open adoption can be a truly wonderful experience for all involved, especially the child. However, this type of relationship also comes with several potential pitfalls.
“Lack of support, a sudden change in the life of either the adoptive or biological family, logistical pressures — all can complicate matters,” says Newlin Carney. “Add to that the emotionally charged issues at stake – parenthood, power, identity – and open adoption can make for some combustible family dynamics.”
The good news is that in most cases, open adoptions are mutually beneficial for all parties. In fact, research has shown that “openness appears to help kids understand adoption, relieve the fears of adoptive parents, and help birth mothers resolve their grief,” according to researchers Harold D. Grotevant and Ruth G. McRoy.
Degree of Openness
Not all open adoptions are created equal. In fact, the degree of openness can vary quite a bit from adoption to adoption. “At one extreme are the families who exchange letters and pictures but have never met,” says Newlin Carney. “At the other are the children whose adoptive and birth families socialize at least once a month or more.”
In reality, most open adoptions le somewhere in the middle, according to Grotevant and McRoy. These arrangements involve letters, pictures, phone calls, and a few face-to-face meetings each year.
“For children in open adoptions, the toughest challenge may come when a birth parent who’s been visiting or calling suddenly vanishes or drifts away,” says Newlin Carney.
Make no mistake about it, an open adoption is a commitment – a promise to your child that you will remain an active part of their life. You may no longer have legal parental rights, but you plan to remain involved. And while circumstances may change, it is important to remember that “all family relationships change over time,” says Newlin Carney. It is important to remain flexible, and continue to be a part of your child’s life. You must always put the child first.
Adoption Makes Family is here for you. We are a non-profit (501-C3) licensed adoption agency based in Maryland founded to meet the needs of birth parents and adoptive parents in a manner that is sensitive, compassionate, and personal. Our experienced professionals can help walk you through the adoption process and answer any questions you may have.
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If you have any questions, you can contact us by phone at 410-683-2100, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or use our online contact form.