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"Open adoption" has been a buzzword in adoption circles for years, but what could it mean for your family in practice?

Open Adoption: Disadvantages

There are also those who disagree that open adoption benefits all parties in all cases. According to Patrick F. Fagan, an adoption therapist, open adoption may lead the child to be confused about their role in their adoptive family, something that could disrupt bonding between adoptive parents and children. 

Should the birth parent be unable to consistently maintain contact, or face difficult life issues such as addiction, an open adoption could also expose the child to pain they would otherwise have been spared. In addition, some adoptive parents find open adoption highly emotionally challenging.

How Views On Discussing Adoption With Children Have Changed

The University of Oregon reports that "adoption professionals maintained a firm consensus that children placed in infancy should be told of their adopted status early in life" in the twentieth century, mainly due to the risk that adoptees would find out they were adopted from other relatives or neighbors before their parents told them. Adoptive parents themselves frequently held different views, and it's not in the least uncommon to hear stories of adoptees who found out during puberty, while enlisting, or even when they were about to get married.

In recent decades, an abundance of children's literature about adoption has appeared, often with a focus on the idea that birth parents did the best they could — engaging in a selfless act by giving their children a better life with an adoptive family — and emphasizing the idea that the adoptive parents specifically chose their child. 

Today, adoptive parents are often encouraged to be open about the child's birth family, something an open adoption certainly facilitates. Rather than relying on stories, the child gets to see for themselves. 

 

What Is Right For Your Family?

The goal of open adoption is to find a situation that is satisfactory to all members of the adoption triad. The best open adoptions are based on mutual trust, openness, and understanding, and a common agreement on the level of contact that works for your family facilitates this. This is something you will want to discuss with your counselor as well as among yourselves. 

All relationships that involve humans are tricky, and subject to change as the people themselves change. Rather than expecting a fairy tale, it is important to keep in mind that you can and probably will face challenges.

As adoptive parents and birth parents unite around mutual love for their child, get to know each other, and agree on what level of contact is in the best interest of the child, open adoption is a road that can turn out to be very satisfactory. 

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