October Adoptions: Openness in Adoption

by Marge Snider

Openness in Adoption and Matching Families and Children will be our discussion for the month of October

It’s hard to believe its already September, Labor Day is over, and kids are beginning a new school year!  We are all aware of the “Perfect Storm” elements still facing us every day, it feels like time is dragging on, most of us, daily,  face some anxiety and depression feelings at varying levels, and all of us are working hard to bring joy and  balance back into our lives, reaching out when possible to help someone else have a brighter day through extending kindness,  laughter and a spontaneous good deed.

Openness in adoption refers to the continuum of relationships that can exist between members of the birth family, the adoptive family, and the child, the adoptee.  This continuum begins with closed adoption, in which no identifying information is shared between the birth and adoptive families. Next is the semi-open adoption, is which usually first names of all parties are shared, birth and adoptive families meet each other before and at the time of the child’s birth, non-identifying information is shared on both sides, and a plan is made for the adoptive family to provide photos, written updates, and possibly videos of the child after placement.  The post placement requests must be initiated by the birth family.  The third continuum is termed openness in adoption, in which full disclosure of pertinent information is shared, identities, addresses, phone, and email addresses are fully shared, and this usually leads to plans for birth parent visitation with the child in the adoptive home indefinitely in the future.

Successful adoption relationships always focus on the needs of the child, and adoption professionals work with birth and adoptive parents to enhance their ability to maintain this focus. Some key factors to consider in facilitating an open adoption relationship include the following:

  • What level of openness in adoption is appropriate and safe for all parties?

  • How will changes in the nature of the relationship be negotiated over time?

  • Can the adoptive parents set appropriate boundaries?

  • Does the birth parent recognize and support the adoptive parent as the parent?

The goal of a careful matching process is to ensure the most appropriate fit between the needs of the child and the strengths of the family.  In the case of domestic infant adoption or placement of children from foster care, matching is the task of reviewing the assessments of prospective families along with those of available children to determine the best family to provide safety, permanency, and well being for a specific child or sibling group.

The selection of a potential adoptive family should be a collaborative effort between the child’s social worker, foster parents or current caretakers, the adoptive family’s assessment worker, adoptive parents, other professionals, and, in some instances, the birth family and the child.  In seeking families for children, workers should first explore families to which the child already has some attachment (e.g., relatives or current or previous foster caregivers).  This may be particularly important for older youth.  If no appropriate resources for the child exist within the child’s current network, “matched” families (non-relative families unknown to the child) should be considered to meet the child’s needs for adoptive placement.

Next month, “What Makes a Good Match? and “Legal Considerations in Matching”.

Until then, be safe and stay well!

Share your Story with us…

Real stories are a powerful way for families to understand the benefits of foster care and being adoptive parents. If you’ve experenced the opportunity for openness in adoption, whether you are a birth parent, adoptive parent or adoptee, adoption changes you. Each time you share your story with someone, you will be reminded how all the pieces of your adoption or foster care journey came together.