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Open Adoption:  Why It's a Good Thing

Open adoption is an increasingly popular form of adoption in which the birth parents and the prospective adoptive parents maintain direct communication throughout the child's life.  This adoption method ensures that the child and the adoptive parents are aware of the birth parents' identity. 

Levels of communication between the two groups vary by individual circumstance, but can include letters, email, telephone conversation and even direct visitation.  While a very personal subject like adoption is different for each person and each case, many of the individuals and families involved have found similar advantages to this method.  Below we have listed some of the common advantages that these families have shared.

For Birth Parents
 
Many birth parents describe this form of adoption as a comfort.  There is often a heavy guilt associated with closed adoption, since many of these parents worry about the life their child is leading.  With open adoption, in many cases, the birth parents have enough interaction with their child's new family to know that s/he is living a good life in a good home.  This certainty often helps birth parents feel more controlled in this difficult circumstance. 

In  addition, this form of adoption can help the birth parents to have a relationship with the child and his/her adoptive family.  For many birth parents this can ease any feelings of loss which are much more common in closed adoption.  This is also often an affirmation that the birth parents have “done the right thing” since they can see their happy child growing up through the years.

For Adoptive Families

Open adoptions are often a comfort to the adoptive family as well.  Through the communication this form allows between the two groups of parents, adoptive families are often comforted by the fact that they were personally selected by the birth parents.  Many adoptive families feel privileged to have been personally chosen by the birth family.   In addition, communication between the two parental groups helps to calm any fears about the birth parents' intentions. 
   
This is also an opportunity to develop a relationship with the birth parents.  This enables the adoptive family to ask the birth parents about pertinent family medical information throughout the child's life.  It also helps the child avoid any questions about his/her past.  Since that questioning period is often very difficult for both the adoptive parents and the child, this can help all involved to avoid a great deal of heartache. 

For the Child

Most importantly, open adoptions are often very beneficial to the child.  In many cases, the adoption process is challenging for the children, but through open adoption many of the major difficulties can be avoided.  Since open adoption allows the child to have a relationship with his/her birth parents, many questions regarding the child's origin and identity are already answered. 

Questions about where they are from, or who they are, often plagues adopted children in closed adoptions.  In addition, many of these children spend a great deal of their adult lives searching for the identity of their birth parents.  All of this is often stressful and emotional for the child, and in an open adoption situation it can be entirely avoided.
   
Through open adoption, the child is able to build a relationship with the birth parents, and often comes to view them as family members.  This gives the child an extensive group of people who can offer personal support throughout the child's life.  It also allows the child to have access to any pertinent family medical information that could become important as s/he grows. 

Open adoption is a unique experience in every case.  However, the open adoption can be, and often is, a more personal and comforting way of making it through what could be a difficult experience.  The more all parties maintain communication about their expectations and desires throughout the life of the child, the more everyone involved will be comfortable and positive about the experience. 

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