Whether you are considering adoption, know someone who recently adopted or have gone through the adoption process yourself, you likely know that open adoption is the standard today. In the vast majority of modern adoptions, birth and adoptive parents share contact during and after the process, exchanging picture and letter updates, text messages, emails and phone calls and even arranging in-person visits.
American Adoptions, like many adoption professionals, encourages this contact because we have seen firsthand the benefits it has for everyone involved — and the science backs it up.
When it comes to the advantages of openness in adoption, the research speaks for itself. Here are 10 important facts and statistics about open adoption and its benefits for everyone in the adoption triad:
1. Today, closed adoptions are all but extinct; it’s estimated that only 5 percent of modern adoptions are closed.
3. In a 2012 survey of adoption professionals conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the overwhelming majority of agencies reported that between 76–100 percent of expectant parents chose their babies’ adoptive parents.
4. With American Adoptions, 100 percent of prospective birth mothers have the right to choose the perfect adoptive parents for their child, get to know them before placement and decide what type of relationship they want to have with their baby and the adoptive family after birth.
5. Most birth and adoptive families in open adoptions report positive experiences, and those with more openness tend to be more satisfied with the adoption process.
6. Open adoption can help birth parents process their grief after placement. Birth mothers who have ongoing contact with their children report greater peace of mind and less grief, worry and regret than those who do not have contact.
7. Openness is especially beneficial for those at the center of the adoption – the adoptees. Research shows that adolescents who have ongoing contact with their birth parents are more satisfied with their adoptions than those without contact. Openness allows them to better understand the reasons for their adoption, promotes more positive feelings toward their birth mother, provides them with information that aids in identity formation, and more.
8. Adoptive parents are becoming increasingly interested in and excited about open adoption. The California Long-Range Adoption Study found that the majority (73 percent) of adoptive parents are very comfortable with contact in their open adoptions. Other studies have found that openness in adoption reduces adoptive parents’ fear and increases their empathy toward birth parents, and also leads to benefits in their relationships with their adopted children.
9. In addition to “structural openness” (open adoption relationships with their birth parents), studies show that adopted children benefit from “communicative openness” within their families — meaning they are free to discuss adoption and express their feelings about their adoption with their parents. Children who experience more open adoption communication within their families have higher self-esteem, fewer behavioral problems, more trust for their parents, fewer feelings of alienation and better overall family functioning.
With so many benefits of open adoption, it’s no wonder that nearly every prospective birth mother chooses to have some openness in her adoption plan — nor is it surprising that adoptive parents are increasingly excited about developing a relationship with their children’s birth families.