An open adoption is when a prospective birth mother voluntarily places her baby for adoption with an adoptive family and the parties agree to continue communication after placement.
Kansas and Missouri open adoptions vary in their terms of agreement. The post-placement agreement will be outlined before placement to ensure that all parties are on the same page. The post-placement agreement may include frequency of contact and types of contact. Frequency and type of contact depend upon the preferences and circumstances of the birth mother and the adoptive parents. It will also be important to keep in mind that while this document guides birth mothers and adoptive families, that does not necessarily mean that it is set in stone. As the child grows up, and circumstances and situations evolve, a birth mother and the adoptive parents may desire to change frequency and type of contact in their open adoption.
The opposite of an open adoption is a closed adoption. A closed adoption is an adoption in which there is no communication or contact between the birth mother and her birth child during his or her upbringing. The birth child may decide at age 18 to open adoption records and contact his or her birth mother. However, the child will not have access to his or her birth mother’s information until then.
Closed adoptions were very popular for a long time in history, as society believed that contact between a birth mother and her child could be harmful to both parties, especially the child. However, recent research is evolving to change the desired post-placement agreement to be at least semi-open. The benefits to continued contact for both the birth mother and the child outweigh the previous fears that society had regarding open adoption.
A semi-open adoption agreement means that personal information is kept confidential and post-placement contact is mediated by the adoption professional. A birth mother may want to have some level of contact with her birth child, but not want any identifying information to be revealed. Perhaps she only wants pictures and updates of her child but doesn’t desire direct contact with the adoptive family. In this case, an adoption professional would mediate that relationship and maintain the privacy of all parties. This is a great option for a woman who has chosen adoption, but doesn’t want an open relationship with her child and his or her family.
Neither option is right or wrong – it’s a choice! And it’s agreed upon with BOTH parties, the birth parents and adoptive parents before finalization. We have found that often the openness of an adoption can change, grow, or diminish over time. Again, it will be up to the brith parents and adoptive parents how much or how little openness in the relationship.