Adoption: Keep It Open

May 19, 2008
By Melissa Haffner, Springfield, MO

The rising popularity of open adoptions in the United States has been the cause of great recent debate. In the long run and despite the uncertainties, this is the best choice in the interest of the child. While more and more parents—adoptive and biological—are keeping the lines of communication open, the common debate is whether this is more harmful or beneficial to the child, in the long run.

Birth parents are generally more willing to participate in an open adoption compared to any other type. For them, the decision to keep the case open is a much easier step than for them to cut off all connections with the child. The mother and father will not have to feel as if they are completely giving up their child and they do not have to deal with the pain and guilt that would come with never knowing him or her. The parents will be able to watch their child grow and can feel secure in knowing he or she is in a good home. These opportunities make it easier for the mother and father to make the decision to put their child up for adoption.

In choosing open adoption, the adoptive parents have less to fear than if they chose to go with a closed case. While some parents eventually have to tell their child the truth about his heritage, families involved in open adoption do not have to dread that day. The child grows up knowing both sets of parents. Many adoptive parents also fear that one day their child will abandon them and choose to live with his biological family instead. A child raised with the knowledge of his history will not have the starry-eyed fantasies and exaggerated curiosity of one day meeting his birth parents. These unrealistic hopes often end in disappointment if the child’s birth family is not what he originally expected.

The adopted child has a great advantage in having an open relationship with the adopted parents and birth parents. Rather than going through the pain of finding out the truth about his ancestry, the child is able to trust both sides of the family. The child will not feel as if his mother and father are keeping his “real” family from him. Once an individual in a closed adoption gets the chance to meet his biological family he risks hurting his adoptive family. While many children grow up in homes with just two parents, a child in an open adoption case will grow up having two sets of parents he can depend on and turn to.

With all the recent debate concerning open v. closed adoption, there are some opposed to it. Some may say that the involvement of the birth parent in a child’s life can cause confusion for him. In most cases, children growing up in this environment will not harbor near as much confusion about their past as other adopted children might. Children growing up in blended families—consisting of divorced parents and step-parents—grow up with two families. How is living with adopted parents and birth parents any different from growing up with a step-mother and step-father? The child in open case is raised with two sets of parents who chose him. This is bound to make any child feel cherished.

In comparison to closed adoption, open cases have proven themselves to be the most desirable choices in regards to the child’s welfare. The choice to keep an open relationship between the child and his birth parents is one that many adoptive parents question. Adoptive parents are encouraged to consider another option before settling for a closed adoption case. As the rising popularity shows, open adoption has proven itself to be the best choice for all involved parties: birth parents, adoptive parents, and the child.

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