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Open or Closed Adoption: Which is Right for You?

By: LawInfo

Adoption is an exciting process. When you add to your family by adopting a child to love and care for, you are beginning a lifelong relationship and commitment. Therefore, it is best to think about the impact of the adoption process on you and the child at the time of adoption and in the future.

Open Adoption

In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive parents know each other's identities. Often, there is direct contact between them. Sometimes, there is ongoing contact after the child has been adopted and the birth parents have a relationship with the child. Some experts believe that this is an emotionally healthy option or all involved.

However, it is important to keep in mind that regardless of whether the identities are known and a relationship ensues, the purpose of adoption is to terminate the parental rights of the birth parents and to give parental rights to the adoptive parents. Therefore, if the adoptive parents decide to end visitation or contact with the birth parents then the birth parents may have a difficult time continuing their relationship with the child.

The two main advantages to open adoptions are that the adopted child never has to wonder about his birth mother nor spend time searching for her. Further, if a complicated medical issue arises it can be useful to have blood relatives of the child tested for organ or blood compatibility.

That said, open adoptions can be emotionally difficult for a birth mother who is watching someone else raise her children and for the adoptive parents who are allowing the birth parent(s) to be known to their child. Accordingly, it is important to seek legal advice prior to entering an open adoption arrangement. Both birth parents and adoptive parents want to know that the adoption process is permanent and that the parental responsibilities have been transferred.

Closed Adoption

In a closed adoption, birth parents and adoptive parents work through an agency or another third party. They do not have contact with one another and care is taken to prevent each party from learning the other's identity. Information is, of course, provided to the adoptive parents about the child's medical history and other important factors.

The information about the adoption and the birth parents is kept sealed in a closed adoption. Traditionally, adoptees would need a court order to get that information released. However, since the late 1990s some states have begun to allow adoptees over the age of 18 to have the records released without a court order. This is consistent with a growing trend in this country toward open adoptions.

A Middle of the Road Approach

While the past few decades have brought many more open adoptions then existed in previous generations, many adoptive parents are fearful of allowing the birth parents to remain in the child's life. Accordingly, there is another approach available where an agency or an attorney acts as a neutral third party and allows the adoptive and birth parents to communicate without knowing the other's identity. Adoptive parents can ask questions and birth parents can see photos without threatening each other.

When adoptions are conducted according to the wishes of both the birth parents and the adoptive parents they are a wonderful advantage to society. Therefore, both birth parents and adoptive parents should seriously consider the repercussions of closed and open adoptions before deciding which path to take.

For more information on open and closed adoptions, contact an adoption law attorney today.

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