This post will discuss the rise in open adoptions. Open adoption is quite different from its alternative, closed adoption, which requires no contact between birth families and adoptive families. Within the last 30 years, however, open adoption has become the norm.
Under an open adoption arrangement, contact between the families is allowed but varies widely in the amount of communication and the type of communication, including face-to-face meetings, emailing, sharing photos or the occasional get-together.
In about 50 percent of states, families are given the option to draft an enforceable contract between the birth and adoptive family. This contract establishes the limits of the relationship. A breach of that contract won't undo an adoption, but it may provide a course of action to redress the breach through mediation or the court system.
Most parents like these agreements because it keeps expectations in check and helps them know what to anticipate.
One study looked at open adoptions over the course of three decades. The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project tracked the parties involved and results demonstrated that people were generally happier with an open adoption than a closed one.
That happiness may be partially due to the fact that open adoptions give the parties a greater role in making decisions about the adoption. But not everyone agrees that this trend is a good thing. Some people feel that open adoptions merely complicate the situation. Opponents state that adopted children may become confused about their identities or that it may be harder on the birth mothers who give their children up for adoption because they can stay connected longer.
With adoption, the key to alleviating these issues is to be well-informed. Knowledge about all adoption alternatives available will help families make an educated decision on what is best for them and for the children.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, "One Baby, Two Moms: a Rise in Open Adoptions," Mara Lemos Stein, Aug. 14, 2012
Our firm handles situations similar to those discussed in this post. To learn more about our practice please visit our Michigan adoption page.