Open adoption means that birth parents and adoptive parents have some knowledge about one another. The birth parents know something about the adoptive parents and may even help choose them. Adoptive parents and their children know medical and genetic information about the birth family and other information that might help in dealing with the emotional issues that often accompany adoption.
There is no universally accepted definition of open adoption. While informal open adoptions have occurred for centuries, whereby grandparents, aunts and uncles, or godparents raised children not born to them but whose parents were known to them, the concept of formal open adoption is quite new -- less than 20 years old. Open adoption can take many forms. In some cases, a birth mother may leaf through a book containing photographs and descriptions of prospective adopters and choose a couple or person she feels would give her baby a good home. She may never meet the adopters, and this may be her only contact with them. At the other extreme, a birth mother may meet the adoptive parents, visit their home, and have ongoing contact throughout the child's life.
Adoption social workers also disagree about the degree of openness that is desirable in adoption. Some agencies encourage the birth mother to play a prominent role in the child's life. Others limit the amount of personal information (i.e., telephone numbers and addresses) exchanged between the prospective adoptive parents and the birth mother. There are also agencies that allow the birth mother and the adoptive parents to decide how much and what kind of future contact they will have with each other.
Source: National Adoption Information Clearinghouse
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