Benefits of Open Adoption
This information was taken directly from Child Welfare Information Gateway
Adoption professionals and researchers 5 point to important benefits of open adoption for adopted children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. Since every adoption is different and the situations of the involved parties vary, these benefits may not apply to every adoption.
Benefits for Adopted Children and Youth
Children and youth who have been adopted naturally have questions about their background and personal histories (Who am I? Who do I look like? Why was I adopted?). Through openness, adopted children and youth gain access to birth parents, and possibly grandparents and siblings, which removes the need to search and helps provide needed answers to compelling questions. Regular contact during childhood creates a base of familiarity and normalcy for adopted children so that they may connect more easily with their birth parents throughout their lives.
- Establish a sense of connection and belonging
- Develop a deeper understanding of their identity and a greater sense of wholeness
- Gain access to important genetic and medical information
- Preserve connections not only to family but also to their cultural and ethnic heritage
- Develop a better understanding for the reasons for placement, which can lessen feelings of abandonment and increase a sense of belonging
- Relate to birth family members as real people with strengths and flaws rather than idealized (or overly negative) fantasies
- Increase the number of supportive adults in their lives
- Create a foundation for lifelong relationships
Benefits for Birth Parents
While birth parents of a child placed for adoption may continue to feel loss and grief over the course of their lives, openness can help them deal with these powerful emotions. Openness from the earliest stages of the adoption process can help birth parents gain a sense of control over the decision-making related to placement of their child. Over time, openness also may help birth parents to:
- Gain peace of mind and comfort in knowing how their child is doing
- Develop personal relationships with the adoptive parents and the child as he or she grows
- Become more satisfied with the adoption process
Benefits for Adoptive Parents
While openness is becoming a more common practice, many people seeking to adopt (as well as their families, friends, and co-workers) are not familiar with open adoption, and many maintain fears and false impressions of the concept. Once in an open adoption, however, most adoptive parents find a comfort level with their arrangements.
- Build a healthy relationship with their child’s birth family and provide lifelong connections for their child
- Gain direct access to birth family members who can answer their child’s questions
- Improve their understanding of their child’s history
- Develop more positive attitudes about their child’s birth parents
- Increase their confidence and sense of permanency in parenting
Openness Is Not for Everyone
In some cases, ongoing contact between a birth and adoptive family is not in a child’s best interest. This may be true when a parent has mental or behavioral issues and is unable to maintain a healthy relationship or respect appropriate boundaries with a child. In some instances, contact might result in additional trauma for a child who has already been victimized by abuse or neglect.
In addition, some parents are comfortable only with closed adoption. For example, a birth mother may have strong needs for privacy or may feel that confidentiality will help her to move on with her life. Adoptive parents may have concerns over interacting with the birth family or may want to have greater control over the information that their child receives.
Return to Adoption Parenting
Child Welfare Information Gateway. (2013). Openness in adoption: Building relationships between adoptive and birth families. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Children’s Bureau.
5 See, for example, the research conducted under the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project (http://www.psych.umass.edu/adoption/) and the review presented in Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections (http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2012_03_openness.php)