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Openness in Adoption

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What is openness?

In the past, it was common for adoptions to be closed, meaning there was no communication between the birth family and adoptive family or child. However, times have changed and we are seeing more and more adoptions have some level of openness.

What does openness look like?

Openness in adoption means that there is some level of communication and information exchanged between the birth family and adoptive family and child. This allows you to keep in contact with your child’s birth family throughout the child’s life. Contact can look like letter & picture updates, phone calls, emails, social media exchanges, and visits. It is important to note that having openness in your adoption does not mean that you are co-parenting. Rather, it means that you are keeping in touch with your child’s birth family throughout the year, like they are extended family. Most adoptions we facilitate at New Hope have some level of openness. To explore some popular types of contact, click the images below.

Letter and picture updates are the most common way we see openness in adoption. This occurs when the adoptive family sends recent photos and a letter filled with updates on the child and their family to the agency. The agency will then forward it on to the birth parents or will hold it at the office for them to request at a later date. These updates can occur a few times a year until the child is 18 years old and are a great way to stay in touch with the child’s birth family. 

Having visits with your child and their adoptive parents is an additional way to have openness in your adoption. These visits are coordinated by New Hope and are held in a neutral location, such as a park or the agency. They typically occur once or twice a year until the child is 18 years old. Visits can occur in person or virtually. Visits can be another great way to nurture your relationship with your child and their adoptive family. 

How do I know what level of openness is right for my family?

Recent research has shown that, while openness in adoption can be intimidating, healthy levels of openness can be extremely beneficial for all members of the adoption triad, including you! Therefore, New Hope requires adoptive families participate in sending letter and picture updates as well as be open to/participate in yearly visits with the birth family. As the relationship develops and trust is built, we often see families include other forms of contact, such as texting, emailing, and social media. The relationship you have with the birth family can be flexible and often changes over time as the relationship develops. We encourage every adoptive family to view their child’s birth parents as their new extended family and to have a heart to foster a relationship with them. However, we understand that in certain circumstances, having a close relationship may not be in the child’s best interest. We will work alongside you and thoroughly assess every situation to help determine what level of openness is appropriate.  Regardless of the openness level of your adoption, it is important to have an open, loving heart towards the birth family. Your child will be able to sense your authentic love of their birth family, and they, in turn, will feel more fully loved by you.

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