Openness in adoption refers to the amount of contact among birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted person. The amount of contact may vary from family to family and, within a family, may change over time. This communication may range from little or no contact; to mediated contact through a third party, anonymous email, or post office box; to ongoing communication with shared identifying information; to occasional in-person contact, holiday visits, or regular communication and visitation when all parties wish it to happen. There is not one type or degree of openness that is right for every family. This section includes resources and information on the range of openness options available to help you determine what level of openness might be best for your family.
Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Families: Perspectives From the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project
Grotevant, McRoy, Wrobel, & Ayers-Lopez (2014)
Provides findings from a study on the dynamics of relationships among birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children based upon the level of contact. The study concludes with implications for the field.
Managing Shifting Expectations in Open Adoption Over Time
Adoption Advocate, 84
National Council for Adoption
Shares the experience of a birth mother participating in an open adoption and how and why her expectations shifted. The brief recommends key questions birth parents should ask throughout the process.
Creating a Family
Offers information about openness in adoption, including interviews with adoption professionals, blogs, and suggested books.
Adoptive Families Magazine
Provides a collection of resources on open adoption from both birth families' and adoptive parents' perspectives. Blog topics include: what should be included in an openness agreement, working through miscommunication, and adoptive parents and birth parents accounts of adoption, among others.
Openness in Adoption: What a Concept!
Donaldson Adoption Institute (2016)
Provides an interactive curriculum divided into three sections: Exploring Openness in Adoption, Experiencing Openness in Adoption, and Living Openness in Adoption. The curriculum includes a documentary, Understanding Open Adoption, featuring the perspectives of adoption professionals and families on open adoption.
Understanding Open Adoption
Adoptive Families Magazine (2016)
Provides an overview of the challenges of open adoption and findings in current research.
|Series Title||Bulletins for Professionals|
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 393KB)
Fears and Consequence in Choosing Open Adoption
Identifies and addresses common myths and misconceptions that birth and adoptive families have about openness in adoption.
Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute (2012)
Presents a report depicting how extensively adoption in the U.S. has changed over the last several decades.
Mediating a Family: The Use of Mediation in the Formation and Enforcement of Post-Adoption Contact Agreements
Journal of Resolution Dispute, 2(7)
Discusses the history of postadoption contract agreements; best practices for utilizing postadoption contact agreements; and the use of mediation to further the interests of children, adoptive families, and birth parents.
Open Adoption Mediation
New Mexico Courts
Provides information on open adoption mediation, including which parties are involved, the full process, and documentation.
|Series Title||State Statutes|
Child Welfare Information Gateway
Download (PDF - 567KB)
Adoptive and Foster Family Connection New York (2016)
Provides State and national resources on open adoption for birth families, adoptive parents, and adopted children and adults.
Open Adoption Agreement (PDF - 5,040 KB)
Connecticut Alliance of Foster and Adoptive Families (2017)
Presents an overview of open adoption, as well as legal information for foster parents in Connecticut.
What is Open Adoption
Explains the different types of openness in adoption, the history of open adoption in California, the rights of parents, questions adoptive parents should ask, and postadoption contract agreements.