If you’re interested in maintaining a relationship with your child after placing them for adoption, you may be interested in an open adoption. So what is an open adoption vs. a closed adoption?
Essentially, a closed adoption is one in which little to no identifying information about you is shared with the adoptive family and your child. This type of adoption was once believed to be the best option for everyone involved and was common for many years. The belief that closed adoptions are beneficial has since been disproven, except in the rare circumstances where the child’s safety is at risk.
During the era of closed adoptions, birth parents never knew if their children grew up happy and healthy. Adoptees were left with no medical history, nor any explanation as to why they were placed for adoption. They were left to try to search for one another if they desired to meet later in life after circumstances changed.
Thankfully, closed adoptions are no longer the norm. In fact, 90 percent of adoptions today are open. Open adoptions lie on a scale of openness. They can be whatever you make them to be.
On the less-open end of the scale, you and the adoptive family might share:
Your first names
Your medical history and the medical history of the birth father, if known
Contact through American Adoptions via letters, photos, or whatever you request
These adoptions are often referred to as “semi-open” because they allow you and the adoptive parents to stay in contact with one another without disclosing identifying information such as last names and personal contact information. If you choose a semi-open adoption in Kansas, American Adoptions will continue to mediate contact for you and the adoptive family for the next 18 years after placement.
If you want to have a more open adoption, you might share:
Contact information with the adoptive family that you choose for your baby, such as your phone number, email address, or mailing address
Regular letters, photos, video chats, texts, phone calls, and more
Visits on holidays, birthdays, etc.
When you work with American Adoptions, all of the families that we show you are ready to start an open adoption with you. This means they’re willing to send you photos and letters for the next 18 years, share phone numbers and email addresses with you for direct contact, have an in-person visit after your child is placed with them, and more. You can accept these communication preferences, increase them or decrease them based on your level of comfort. Ultimately, deciding how open you’d like your adoption to be comes down to what you and the adoptive family feel comfortable with.
Here’s what open adoptions are (and are not):
Open adoptions do not involve co-parenting; parental rights remain with the adoptive parents
Open adoptions are a fantastic way to watch your child grow up happy and loved
Open adoptions often create a lifelong bond with both your child and their adoptive family
Open adoptions allow you to exchange potentially life-saving medical information with your child
Open adoptions allow your child to openly ask you questions about their adoption and biological heritage
For birth parents, one of the greatest benefits of open adoption is the ability to watch your child grow. This often helps birth parents to emotionally heal post-placement. Reminders that their child is loved, happy, and thriving can help dispel any lingering worries they may have about their adoption decision. Maintaining a post-placement relationship can remove questions that many expectant parents fear they’ll have if they place their children for adoption.
Through an open adoption, adoptees, adoptive families, and birth families remain connected and a part of each other’s lives long after the adoption has been finalized, to whatever extent they desire.
American Adoptions stands with experts in the assertion that greater openness in adoptions benefits everyone involved, particularly the adoptee. We always recommend an open adoption whenever circumstances allow.
Some states allow legally enforceable Post Adoption Contact Agreements (PACAs) between birth and adoptive families, which are agreements to maintain contact as specified within the document. Kansas does not enforce PACAs at this time. Many PACAs in Kansas are written as informal agreements rather than binding legal documents.
But although open adoptions in Kansas aren’t legally enforceable, American Adoptions counsels both birth and adoptive families about the importance of staying true to one’s word in an open adoption agreement. If communication is mediated, we will continue to send any correspondence that occurs between the families for up to 18 years as long as we have a current address.
If we’re unable to reach one party, we’ll hold on to any letters and photos that are intended for them in case they contact us and request them.
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