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July 24, 2015

Adoption – Open or Closed?

If you are thinking about going through the adoption process you may be wondering whether an open or closed adoption is better. While there are many different interpretations of these terms, the main difference between an open and a closed adoption is that identifying information is exchanged in an open adoption but is kept confidential in a closed adoption. You may also consider a semi-open adoption which falls somewhere in between an open or closed adoption.

Open Adoptions

In an open adoption the birth parents and the adoptive parents will typically develop a plan of adoption for the child. When the adoption is “completely” open, the birth and adoptive parents will fully disclose identifying information to one another, including their first and last names. If the adoption is semi-open, the families will generally only know each other by first name. In an open adoption, the families will directly interact and work together to develop an agreement setting forth their expectations for the adoption. This document establishes how contact will take place between the families, including how often letters and pictures will be exchanged, as well as any meetings between the birth parents and the adoptive family as the child grows up.

One benefit to an open adoption is that both sets of parents are able to exercise a level of control over the process. They can work together to figure out what is best for themselves and the adoptive child. When an adoption is open, birth parents are often more confident with their decision because they may able to play a part in their child’s life. The adoptive parents may feel more comfortable with the process because they have a better understanding of the birth parents’ and the child’s history and may be less fearful that the parents will change their minds. Open adoptions also offer benefits to the adoptive child. The adoptive parents can share information about the birth parents with their child as he or she grows up. This information may lessen the child’s feelings of abandonment and help the child develop a connection with his or her birth family.

While there are many benefits to an open adoption, there are also cons that need to be considered. First and foremost, is the lack of privacy. If the adoption is completely open the parties will have full identifying information about one another. If this makes either the birth or the adoptive parents uncomfortable, a semi-open adoption may be considered.

Problems can arise in an open adoption when a party fails to fulfill or wants to change the terms of the adoption agreement. This can create conflict among the families affecting the child in a negative manner. If contact between the families is suddenly stopped, the child may feel angry and abandoned. Another factor to consider in an open adoption is whether the child will be confused or uncomfortable knowing that he or she has “two families.”   In some instances, a child may never want to establish a relationship with his or her birth parents or the child may want to stop existing contact in order to make a clean break from the past.

Closed Adoptions

Unlike an open adoption, a closed adoption is confidential. The families will not meet nor will they share any identifying information with each other. Moreover, once the adoption process is complete, the birth parents will not receive any updates or information about the child.

In some instances a closed or confidential adoption may be preferable. The birth parents may not want to have contact with the adoptive parents. They may want to keep the pregnancy confidential so they can move forward with their lives. Sometimes the adoptive parents do not want to share information about their child after the adoption. If they are concerned that the birth parents will try to interfere in their child’s life, they may be more comfortable with a closed adoption. There are also situations where a closed adoption is best for the child because he or she may need to be protected from his or her birth parents.

From the birth parents’ perspective, a closed adoption may be unacceptable because the parents will not receive any information about their child as he or she grows up. Both birth parents and adoptive parents may be uncomfortable with a closed adoption because they have less control over the process. Adoptive parents may also be concerned about a lack of ongoing access to medical information about the birth family. When an adoption is closed, the adoptive child will not know who his or her birth parents are. As the child grows and matures, he or she may be confused about his or identity and experience feelings of rejection and abandonment. The child may become preoccupied with being adopted and searching for his or her birth parents.

Making the Choice

The pros and cons associated with open and closed adoptions are in constant debate. Because these terms are so often defined differently, you need to know how the adoption agency, attorney or other organization you are working with determines what makes an adoption “open” or “closed.” Once you understand your choices and how they will work, you will be better able to evaluate the pros and cons associated with each. If you have questions, a Texas adoption attorney can help you better understand the adoption process so that you can determine what is best for you and your family.

Posted in Adoption