In the past, the prevailing wisdom was that when a birthmother put a baby up for adoption, separating the two and sealing the birth records should happen as soon as possible before they had a chance to bond. Sealing the birth records happens in a closed adoption.
An open adoption is one in which there is no sealing of the birth records. The adoptive and birth parents get to know one another, and the birth family can retain contact with the child following adoption. Open adoptions have increased since research in the 1970s showed that they could be beneficial to all parties. FindLaw explains some of the potential benefits.
1. Relationship between birth family and child
In an open adoption, the birth parents relinquish their parental rights as they would in a closed adoption. However, they can maintain communication with the adoptive parents and their biological child. This may make the decision to give the child up for adoption easier.
2. Ability of the child to ask questions of birth family
In a closed adoption, a child may have questions about where he or she came from that adoptive parents cannot answer. An open adoption allows a child to ask his or her questions of the birth parents.
3. Access to medical history
Certain medical conditions run in families. Closed adoptions can put children at a disadvantage because sealing the medical records means that they do not have access to their birth parents’ medical history. With an open adoption, this information is available to them.
4. Trust between parents
Open adoptions give adoptive parents and birth parents the chance to get to know and trust one another. Adoptive parents can express concerns, and birth parents can put their minds at ease.
Despite the many advantages, there are potential disadvantages to open adoptions. Birth parents and adoptive parents do not always get along. The birth parents are at a disadvantage if the adoptive parents decide they no longer want their child to have contact with them.