Should Your Adoption Be Open Or Closed?

The decision to give up a child is one of the more difficult choices a person can have to make. To further complicate matters, birthparents now have a choice between closed and open adoptions. Which one is right for you?

Closed adoptions

Years ago, adoption was a taboo topic. Many young women were sent to homes for unwed mothers under a veil of secrecy. After the baby was born, they were encouraged to live as though they had never been pregnant. In those days, most—if not all—adoptions were closed, meaning the birth family and adoptive family had no identifying information about each other. 

Closed adoptions still have a place in modern times. For the birth parents, knowing the adoption is sealed may allow them to move on with their lives. It also gives them more control over who knows about the adoption, and who doesn't.

From the child's standpoint, closed adoptions allow them to decide as an adult what kind of relationship, if any, they want with their birth family. In many states, after an adoptee turns 18 they are able to request identifying information that will potentially allow them to locate their biological family.

Closed adoptions do carry with them some disadvantages, as well. The child only has access to a limited family medical history, and may never know what hereditary conditions they're predisposed to. Additionally, they may struggle with identity issues, as a result of not knowing where they came from. For the birth parents, having no way of knowing if the child is safe and well-cared for can be traumatic and stressful

Open adoptions

Open adoptions are becoming increasingly more common. In fact, open adoptions account for over 60 percent of all domestic adoptions. They allow for contact between the biological and adoptive families as the child grows, although the exact amount of contact varies. It could range from pictures and letters, to regular, face-to-face visits, depending on the situation.

Open adoptions can be advantageous for the birth parents because they're able to see the child grow. The sense of loss may not be as strong as it is in closed adoptions, as they're still allowed to have some type of relationship. They may also feel more comfortable with their decision to relinquish custody as they get to know and trust the adoptive family.

For children, open adoptions allow for full access to their birth family's medical history. They are able to ask questions about their birth family and their adoption. They may also benefit from  the ability to have relationships with any biological siblings they may have down the line.

On the down side, open adoptions can be problematic if clear boundaries aren't established early on. They child may be confused over which parents to listen to, and the birth parents may find themselves with unrealistic expectations of what kind of relationship they will be able to have with the child.

Deciding between open and closed adoptions is a deeply personal decision. Make sure you've considered all possible angles before committing to one or the other. For more information, contact an adoption agency such as A Child's Dream.