Openness in Adoption – A Brief Description

open_sign_green_(compressed)(2)Understanding the varying levels of openness in adoption is important for both expectant parents and prospective adoptive parents. Today’s blog post helps clarify the language that’s commonly utilized to discuss “open adoption.”

Adoption language can undoubtedly be confusing (especially when you’re new to the process), but an organization in Michigan named Spaulding for Children has published a helpful synopsis of open adoption terminology.

“It’s hard to imagine a term more misunderstood than ‘open adoption.’ Between the imprecision of the word open and the many variations in the ways that ‘open adoption’ is practiced, the words are at risk of losing their capacity to carry much if any useful information. The confusion surrounding open adoptions is not an insignificant matter because confusion easily leads to unmet expectations and disappointment. Our first task, as we begin our consideration of the subject, is to clarify some of the language commonly used in the practice of adoption.

Here are some words that people use:

  • ‘Openness in adoption’ is a phrase that suggests a range of options is available. The expression correctly indicates that adoption arrangements are not all alike; some are more open than others. This phrase does not, however, indicate how extensive the options are, so it is important for potential adoption participants to gain clarity about the exact nature of the available options.
  • ‘Open placement’ means the birth family and adoptive family have some time-limited interaction. Most of the interaction is pre and perinatal, and it usually ends within a year of placement.
  • ‘Semi-open adoption’ suggests that some information will be exchanged and that some limited ongoing communication may be possible. Coming from another angle, some people refer to this approach as ‘modified closed adoption.’
  • ‘Open adoption’ is a form of adoption in which the child enjoys a continuing relationship with his/her birth family. The communication and interaction between the families is direct, ongoing and centered on meeting the needs of the child.”