Open adoptionis a form of adoption in which the biological and adoptive families have access to varying degrees of each other's personal information and have an option of contact. In Open Adoption, the adoptive parents hold all the rights as the legal parents, yet the individuals of the biological and adoptive families may exercise the option to open the contact in varying forms: from just sending mail and/or photos, to face-to-face visits between birth and adoptive families.

There are many benefits to open adoption. The birthparents feel at peace knowing they have created the adoption. Ongoing contact through the years enables birthparents to get closure and confirm that they made the best decision for their child. The adoptive parents feel chosen and entitled to parent their child. In addition, because they know the birthparents, they do not fear an unknown figure. The child benefits most of all because they know where they came from and where they belong. They also have access to information about their birthparents including cultural and medical history.

For both birth parents and adoptive parents, the open adoption process can remove the mystery from the adoption process, and can permit a greater degree of control in the decision-making process. The open adoption process also allows adoptive parents to better answer their children's questions about who their birthparents were, and why they were adopted. Open adoptions can also help the child come to terms with being adopted, because the child's concerns can be addressed directly by everyone who was involved in the adoption process.

There can be downsides to open adoption. Many adoptive parents find the degree of openness to be a threat, fearing that the birthparents will intrude upon their lives after the adoption is over, or even seek to have the child returned to them. Adoptive parent may worry that the child will be confused over who his or her "real" parents are.

Open Adoption Pros and Cons

Pros Cons
Your child will never have to search for birthparents. Your child may never wish to search for birthparents
The adopted adult can easily establish a relationship with birthparents. The birthparents may want more or less contact than the adopted adult wants.
The minor child may be able to have a positive relationship with birthparents. An unstable birthparent could cause problems.
You may feel more relaxed about the adoption knowing exactly who the birthmother is. You may feel less of a sense of entitlement and see yourself as not a "real mother."
You gain more "extended family." Do you really want more extended family?
The birthmother may be less likely to change her mind about the adoption because she knows you. Open adoption may attract birth mothers who don't really want their babies adopted, and see open adoption as "halfway."
The birthmother may be less likely to change her mind about the adoption because it would hurt you too much. The birthmother might feel she should have more input into childrearing than you'd like.
As time passes, if the birthmother has a change in her health status, she can notify you about conditions that could later affect your child. Often people lose track of each other and the birthmother may not tell you about health changes.