In an open adoption, biological and adopting parents exchange identifying information and are then able, if they so choose, to be in direct contact with one another. In this kind of adoption, both the birth parents and the adoptive parents will have information about each other, such as last names, addresses and phone numbers.
Another definition of open adoption is where birth parents decide that they would like to meet the adoptive parents before they choose to place their biological child with them. If the birth parents are comfortable with the family, the relationship may continue. Even when the adoption is finalized, the relationship can be very personal, and can include visits, phone calls, and exchanging letters, pictures or e-mails. The adopted child can meet his or her birth family and communication is as open as the parties involved decide on. As of December 2005, 22 U.S. states have legal provisions for enforceable open adoption contact agreements, while 28 do not.
Goals of an Open Adoption:
- To minimize the child's loss of relationships.
- To maintain and celebrate the adopted child's connections with all the important people in his or her life.
- To allow the child to resolve losses with truth, rather than the fantasy adopted children often create when no information or contact with their birth family is available.
In a closed child adoption, birth parents and adopting families are anonymous. While many details may be shared, no identifying information (such as last name, addresses, etc.) is exchanged. The birth parents and adoptive family can meet, share pictures and updates, and have ongoing contact through the agency, but they do not share last names and addresses.