Adoption Laws: Open Adoption

Open adoption is a condition placed upon the adoption of a child that allows for controlled communication between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. Open adoption can encompass various levels of the process, from the birth parents choosing and communicating in a limited way with the adoptive parents (semi-open) to a situation where the birth parents have contact with the child throughout his life.

Benefits of Open Adoption
Those who support open adoptions claim that the contact and information received from the birth family are helpful when the child faces emotional issues that come with the knowledge that he or she is adopted. Because there is no fantasizing about birth parents, children can often ask and get real answers to their questions, minimize any abandonment issues and come to accept the boundaries set. Medically, an open adoption means more accurate information on family history and conditions. Children in open adoptions can also be exposed to other siblings and relatives to build long-term relationships.

Concerns with Open Adoptions
The cons of open adoption are a lack of privacy for the birth parents. After the stress and loss of giving a child up, many birth parents seek closure and an opportunity to move on. Open adoption also potentially exposes a child to unstable birth parents and unsuccessful co-parenting, which might bring up loyalty conflicts. Sometimes, boundaries get crossed when one side doesn't recognize or agree with how, when and why contact should occur. Open adoption is also only maintained at the will of the adoptive parents, as the birth parents give up all rights to the child to them.

In an adoption, the birth parent voluntarily terminates parental rights via a court of law. This means relinquishing all legal rights to the child, even the right to see the child. This can happen within a few days to a few months after the birth. After that, it is completely up to the adoptive family to maintain an open adoption and to keep the lines of communication open. In essence, once the adoption is legalized, the adoptive parents can cut off contact at any time. Sometimes, adoptive parents may carry out lots of contact at first, then allow it to dwindle. Other adoptive parents may feel annoyed, harassed or worried by a birth parent and cut off contact. They are perfectly within their rights to do so.

Once the adoption process has been finalized, birth parents cannot change their minds and reclaim the child. Unless there is proven evidence of fraud, illegality or coercion, adoption cannot be reversed after being finalized. Birth parents should be well-informed of their legal options before committing to giving up their child in an open adoption, rather than simply accepting the promises of an agency or adoptive family.

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