Nine out of 10 birth parents that have placed a child for adoption now choose to have an open adoption. If you’re interest in having a relationship with your child after adoption in Pennsylvania, an open adoption may be the option for you.
Here’s what you should know about open adoption vs. closed adoption in Pennsylvania:
Just a few decades ago, closed adoptions were considered the norm. Birth and adoptive families had little to no contact before, during or after the adoption. Identifying information was rarely provided to anyone involved about the other party, meaning birth parents often wondered what became of the child they’d placed for adoption, and adoptees had no medical history and no answers to their many questions about their adoption stories.
While closed adoptions were once viewed as the best practice during a time when adoption was falsely considered shameful, the lack of information made it almost impossible for birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees to all reunite after the adoption if they wished to find one another. Although closed adoptions are still an option for prospective birth mothers today, the vast majority of women choose open or semi-open adoptions because of the benefits it offers them and their children.
Why are 90 percent of modern-day adoptions considered “open?” Because the increase in information, transparency and communication has created increasingly beneficial outcomes for everyone involved in adoptions.
You may be unsure of what’s involved in an open adoption and what birth mother rights in open adoption are in Pennsylvania. Open adoptions are really whatever you want them to be; no two are alike. They lie on a scale of openness that ranges from “semi-open” to “fully open.”
Semi-open adoptions tend to include sharing:
The first names of birth and adoptive parents
The medical history of the birth parents (when known)
Any desired communication through American Adoptions, which can include letters, photos, emails, etc.
A more open adoption in Pennsylvania may include sharing information such as:
The contact information of birth and adoptive parents, like email or mailing addresses and phone numbers so you can contact each other easily
Direct communication with each other before, during and after the adoption
Family visits, if desired
Anything else both of your feel comfortable sharing
All adoptive families who work with American Adoptions are prepared for an open adoption, so it’s up to you how much or how little contact you wish to have with your child’s adoptive family. You can have whatever post-adoption relationship you feel comfortable with.
The myths about open adoption have persisted despite how common they’ve become. These are just a few of the most important facts about open adoption in PA:
Open adoptions DO let you stay a part of your child’s life
Open adoptions DON’T mean that you’ll be co-parenting with the adoptive parents
Open adoptions DO let your child to talk with you about their adoption and birth family
Open adoptions DON’T confuse adopted children about who their “real parents” are
Open adoptions DO give you the peace of mind of seeing your child grow up happy with their family
Experts have found that increased openness in adoptions is beneficial for both birth and adoptive parents, but particularly adoptees. For this reason and more, American Adoptions always recommends open adoptions whenever a situation allows.
Pennsylvania is one of the few states that does allow open adoptions to be legally enforced. In Pennsylvania, post-adoption contact agreements (PACAs) may be approved by the court on a case-by-case basis. These agreements are not legally enforceable unless they are approved by the court.
PA adoption law states that the action to file for a legally enforceable openness agreement must be in writing and approved by the court on or before the date that an adoption decree is issued. If deemed legally enforceable, post-adoption contact agreements may cease if the child is 12 and requests to modify or discontinue the agreement, and automatically cease to be legally enforceable after the child has turned 18.
However, even though some open adoptions are legally enforceable according to Pennsylvania adoption law, PACAs are rarely needed. American Adoptions works hard to counsel birth and adoptive families about the importance of honoring the open adoption agreement that you create together. If one of you loses contact, we’ll hold onto any correspondence intended for that party for up to 18 years in case that person gets in touch with us and wishes to get back in contact.
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