Today, the vast majority of adoptions are considered “open.” But open adoption can mean many different things for different people. If you are an expectant mother considering adoption, it is important to have legal representation to ensure that your desires for your open adoption are documented and secured.
Here, learn how Claiborne|Fox|Bradley can help you create a post-placement contact plan and ensure your wishes for an open, semi-open, or closed adoption are respected long after placement.
What is open adoption?
There are many ways to define open adoption. For some, open adoption may mean the occasional exchange of pictures and letters. For others, open adoption could be more frequent phone calls, emails, or even face-to-face visits.
While there is no single open adoption definition, most open adoptions fit into one of two categories:
- Semi-Open Adoption: An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive family exchange non-identifying information (such as first names), and communicate indirectly via an adoption professional. Most semi-open adoptions involve the exchange of pictures and letters coordinated by an adoption agency or attorney.
- Fully Open Adoption: An adoption in which the birth parents and adoptive family may exchange identifying information, including last names and personal contact information, and communicate directly. Fully open adoptions may involve phone calls, text messages, emails, and even in-person visits.
The most important definition of open adoption is the one you decide you would like to use. What does open adoption mean to you? As you develop your adoption plan, consider the type and amount of contact you would like to have with your child and the adoptive parents after placement.
What is a post-adoption contact agreement?
Once you have determined your desires for a post-placement relationship with the adoptive family, Claiborne|Fox|Bradley can help you document your wishes in a post-adoption contact agreement.
Your post-adoption contact agreement will outline a plan for future communication with your child and the adoptive parents. If you are seeking more privacy, that will be confirmed in writing. If you want wider access for communication and visitation, that will also be included in the contract. When you and the adoptive parents sign the agreement, it becomes a legally enforceable document under Georgia law.
While these agreements are permitted in North Carolina, they are not necessarily legally enforceable. However, it is still helpful to have a written document that explains each party’s expectations for the relationship. Even without a legally binding agreement, most adoptive parents will honor and respect their commitment to you in an open or semi-open adoption.
What are the benefits of open adoption?
While most birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees are now able to keep in touch after placement, this wasn’t always the case. Until recently, the majority of adoptions were closed, meaning that birth parents and adoptive families received very little, if any, information about one another, and exchanged no contact after the adoption took place.
In most cases, these closed adoptions were detrimental to all parties, leading adoption experts to begin promoting more openness in adoption during the 1980s. Since then, open adoption has benefitted all members of the adoption triad in a number of ways:
- For Birth Parents: Whatever type of relationship you want to have with your child after placement, it can become a reality with open or semi-open adoption. Knowing that you can stay in touch with your child may help you feel a sense of closure and process difficult feelings in a healthier way. In addition, open adoption allows you to communicate with your child, explain your adoption decision and remind him or her of your love throughout the years.
- For Adoptive Families: Open adoption makes it easier for adoptive parents to answer their children’s questions and help them develop a positive view of adoption. In addition, these adoptive parents can obtain updated family medical information that could help keep their child safe and healthy in the future.
- For Adopted Children: In closed adoptions, many children have unanswered questions about their adoption stories and their birth parents. Open adoption can help fill this void and promote positive identity development and self-esteem.
There are many open adoption facts and open adoption stories illustrating that these relationships can be rewarding for everyone involved. However, open adoption is not for everyone. As a woman considering adoption, it is up to you to decide how you feel about open vs. closed adoption and to decide what type of relationship you are most comfortable with in your circumstances.
Claiborne|Fox|Bradley can provide more information about open, semi-open and closed adoption and help you develop a plan for your own adoption relationship. To learn more or to start creating a post-adoption contact agreement, contact us for free and with no obligation.