An open adoption is an adoptive relationship in which a baby’s birth parents and the adoptive family share identifying information. They maintain contact with each other without the help of an adoption professional. The exact amount of contact — and the form it takes — can vary based on the preferences of everyone involved. An adoptive relationship is just like any other relationship; it can grow and evolve over time.
An open adoption in Arkansas benefits all sides of the adoptive triad:
Birth Mothers: An open adoption allows a birth mom to maintain a relationship with her baby even as they grow up in their adoptive home. She doesn’t have to wonder how her child is doing, because she has access to that information.
Adoptive Families: It’s not uncommon for adoptive families to believe that open adoption benefits birth moms more than adoptive parents. However, that’s not the case at all. In the beginning, families who are more accepting of contact with birth parents will have an easier time finding an adoption match. An open adoption also allows adoptive parents to keep up-to-date with the birth parents’ medical histories, which can be beneficial should any problems arise with their child’s health.
Adoptees: A child that is adopted may feel that a large part of himself or herself is missing if they know little or nothing of their birth parents. An open adoption relationship gives them answers to questions their adoptive parents may not even anticipate, such as what their birth parents look like, or how they laugh, or what music they like. As children go on to form self-identities, this information can be important. It’s better for them to have access to this information, as well as for them to be able to ask any questions they may have. They’ll never have to wonder why they were placed for adoption because they’ll be able to have a conversation about it.
Studies show that some degree of openness in an adoption is preferable for everyone involved, but there is another option for those who would prefer a more structured relationship.
A semi-open adoption is a type of open adoption that’s a little more restricted. In a semi-open adoption relationship, birth parents still maintain contact with an adoptive family, but all communication is facilitated by an adoption professional. Approximately 95 percent of today’s current domestic adoptions are semi-open, or mediated.
Mediated contact may occur in several different ways:
Conference calls through the agency prior to placement
Personal visits before placement takes place
Interaction during the hospital stay
Regular picture and letter updates after placement
A semi-open adoption comes with most of the benefits of an open adoption, but allows for more structured contact should either the birth parents or adoptive parents prefer to communicate that way.
A closed adoption is the exact opposite of an open adoption. Little to no contact is shared between the birth parents and adoptive family. American Adoptions only works with families who are willing to share post-placement contact with their child’s birth parents, but that doesn’t mean a closed adoption isn’t an option for pregnant women. While closed adoption in Arkansas isn’t generally recommended, and the benefits with open adoption vs closed adoption are clear, we do still help to complete closed adoptions when requested by a prospective birth mother. Sometimes a birth mother feels that it would be better for her to completely close that chapter in her life, in which case she can agree to a closed adoption with an adoptive family.
Arkansas state laws don’t address postadoption contact agreements, which can help to make an open adoption legally enforceable. To avoid the necessity for legal intervention, talk to your adoption specialist about how to get to know an adoptive family and trust that they will abide by their contact agreement.
For more information about what type of adoptive relationship could work best for you and your baby, call 1-800-ADOPTION, or request free information here.
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