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What Do You Think the Child Would Want in Regards to an Open Adoption?

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Open adoption occurs when potential birth mothers and prospective adoptive families have a personal interaction with one another. In this type of adoption, the identities of all parties are shared. Interaction can differ from one family to another and may include letters, e-mails, telephone calls, or visits. There are several potential disadvantages to open adoption that should be considered by birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children

Additional pressure-In some cases the birth mother or birth family might want a greater level of openness than the adoptive parents. Consequently, the adoptive parents might feel under pressure to accept the demands of the birth family for fear of not getting the child.

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Other adoptions are not open. In a confidential or closed adoption, no contact takes place between you and the adoptive family. No information will be given out that identifies the adoptive parents or you as the birth mother. However, nonidentifying information, such as background and medical information about the birth family, will be shared with the adoptive family. Research has shown that children do better in an open adoption because it allows them to better understand how they came to be adopted. An open adoption also allows them to ask questions about their family backgrounds as these questions come to mind throughout their lives. Forty years ago, most adoptions were closed and kept secret. Research has shown that closed adoptions created problems for adopted children and birth parents, including a sense of secrecy. Secrets sometimes suggest that something shameful or bad happened in the past. Therefore, information that may be normal for all children to have as they grow and mature is missing. Birth parents often feel a sense of loss or sadness. And they may worry about the child they gave birth to

Today, more women who face unplanned pregnancies seek openness. There is no one level of openness in adoption that is best for everyone, and the level of openness may change over time. The process of open adoption will not be the same in every State, agency, or family. An adoption agency social worker, counselor, facilitator, or lawyer can walk you through the process they use. The common steps before the baby’s birth are described below. They cover the typical process of working with an agency and highlight some key differences in working with a lawyer (in the case of an independent adoption). Open adoption does not mean parenting your child together with the adoptive parents. Like all forms of adoption, the adoptive parents will have the permanent legal rights and responsibilities for parenting and raising the child.

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During infancy and early childhood, a child attaches to and bonds with the primary care-giver. Prenatal issues, such as the length of gestation, the mother’s use of drugs or alcohol, and genetic vulnerabilities, may, ultimately, affect a child’s ability to adjust. The temperament of everyone involved also plays a role. As a child approaches preschool age, he or she develops magical thinking, that is, the world of fantasy is used to explain that which he or she cannot comprehend (Melina L., 2000). The child does not understand reproduction, and must first understand that he or she had a birth mother and was born the same way as other children. Even though a child as young as three years of age may repeat his or her adoption story, the child does not comprehend it. The child must first grasp the concept of time and space, which usually occurs at age four to five years, to see that some events occurred in the past, even though he or she does not remember them. The child must understand that places and people exist outside of his or her immediate environment

Telling a child his or her adoption story at this early age may help parents to become comfortable with the language of adoption and the child’s birth story. Children need to know that they were adopted. Parents’ openness and degree of comfort create an environment that is conducive to a child asking questions about his or her adoption. Operational thinking, causality and logical planning begin to emerge in the school-aged child. The child is trying to understand and to master the world in which he or she lives. The child is a problem solver. He or she realizes that most other children are living with at least one other biological relative. It is the first time that the child sees himself or herself as being different from other children (Jewett Jaratt Co., 1994). The child may struggle with the meaning of being adopted, and may experience feelings of loss and sadness.

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As can be seen, there was a time when a cloak of secrecy and shame covered the women who gave up their children and those who adopted knew little, if anything, of their new child's biological parents

But these days open adoptions are much more common, and new parents often raise their children in close contact with their biological parents. Still, those who adopt children often say later that it was perhaps the hardest task they've ever undertaken. Two adoptive parents have recently compiled some of their stories chronicling the difficulties and remarkable variations of experience in taking another person's child into their home.

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Melina L. Talking to children about their adoption: When to start, what to say, what to expect. Adopted Child. 2000;

Maguire Pavao J. The Family of Adoption. Boston: Beacon Press; 1998.

Derdeyn A, Graves CL. Clinical vicissitudes of adoption. Child Adolesc Psychiatry North Am. 1998;7:373–88.

Jewett Jaratt Co. Helping Children Cope with Separation and Loss. Boston: The Harvard Common Press; 1994.

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