What You Should Know About Open Adoptions

As you decide to adopt to grow your family, you likely have a lot of questions. While your adoption attorney is a wonderful resource, there are some things you are going to have to answer for yourself once you have enough information, including which type of adoption you are comfortable with.

One common adoption type is open. In an open adoption, the birth and adoptive family share information and will be in contact with each other through the adoption process and afterward. While that sounds simple enough on its face, there’s room for interpretation. It’s certainly true that no two open adoptions are the same, and things may work differently depending on the families involved.

Many people think open adoption means the birth and adoptive families are in constant contact, and they may even imagine the adoptive parents talking with the birth parents about every decision. While phone calls and in-person visits may be a part of some open adoption arrangements, it is not a co-parenting situation. Instead, the amount and types of contact between the families vary by case, depending on what the birth parents asked for and adoptive parents agreed to.

How Do Open Adoptions Work?

Just how an open adoption works will depend on the people involved. In most cases, the birth and adoptive families use emails, phone calls, and in-person visits to get to know each other. After the adoption, the two families continue their relationship using emails, phone calls, photos and letters, and other contact forms, such as video calls and text messages.

Generally, as part of the open adoption process, the birth parents will state what type of contact they want to have, and then the adoptive parents agree to whatever they are comfortable with until a resolution is reached or the two families decide this is not going to be the best placement for their child.

What to Consider

Some adoptive families dismiss open adoptions right at the start of their search because they are concerned about the level of contact the birth family will have with the child. However, the level of contact is different on a case-by-case basis. Some birth families will only want letter and photo updates of their child once or twice a year. Other birth families may not be sure which type of contact they even want at the beginning of the process, opting for very limited contact at first and then becoming more comfortable with increased contact over time.

After the adoption, the birth and adoptive families will continue to have a relationship as outlined in their post-adoption contract. This is a legal agreement that details all the terms of the adoption, including contact type and frequency in open adoptions. Depending on the agreement, the two families may exchange updates via phone calls, texts, messaging apps, video calls, photo-sharing apps, or in-person visits.

Adoption relationships evolve constantly over time, and each open adoption will be different. An adoption may be fully open, but the birth parents could decide to limit contact down the road, while another adoption might be less open at the start until both families decide they want to have a more open adoption. Over time, contact between the families will ebb and flow. Eventually, both families should reach a communication pattern that works well for all involved.

As you consider your adoption type, remember to work with an adoption attorney who will be able to answer your questions and guide you through this complex process. Your attorney will ensure that all of your concerns are addressed and that you understand exactly how your adoption arrangement will work now and in the future.