Often, adoptions are “secret” events in which the birth family and adoptive family have little to no information about each other. The most a birth family may know about the child’s biological parents is very basic written information set forth in an Order terminating parental rights or in a document known as a “Birth Family Background Information Form” which is required to be filed in all adoptions. These types of adoption are known as closed adoptions because of the confidentiality involved in them and because there is no contact between the two families. While this remains the most common type of adoption, another form has become increasingly popular – the open adoption.
In an open adoption, the biological family and adoptive family have an active relationship. The two families freely communicate, which makes it easier for the adoptive parents to find out critical information about the birth family, such as medical histories. It also enables the birth family to remain involved in the child’s life.
One important aspect to remember about the open adoption is that that two sets of parents set the terms. They agree on how much or how little direct communication the birth parents will have with the child. Some families are heavily intertwined while others only share updates via electronic or virtual means. The parameters of the relationship can and should be set forth in a written document called a “Post-Adoption Contract” so that there is no confusion or frustration about the relationship. This document is enforceable by the Court which granted the adoption and can be modified if circumstances change.
Anyone who is considering an open adoption should think closely about the way the situation might impact them. For the birth parents, seeing the child being raised by someone else might be challenging. For the adoptive parents, there might be a fear of intrusion. Setting clear rules from the start is advisable to prevent these problems.
No matter which side of the adoption you’re on make sure you protect your interests and avoid unwelcome surprises by hiring an experienced adoption attorney to prepare and review the necessary documents with you.