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Open Adoption

The face of newborn domestic adoption has undergone several changes in the past 30 years. Most significant is the amount of contact seen between adoptive parents and birth parents.

Today, social stigmas surrounding adoption are diminished and families and birth parents alike are encouraged to embrace their adoption stories. Birth parents are encouraged to talk about their emotions. Adoptive parents are encouraged to make their child aware of the adoption from an early age. Together, they are encouraged to communicate and share in the child’s milestones and achievements.

This type of communication between birth parents and adoptive parents is referred to as an open adoption and has become increasingly common among the adoption community.

What is Open Adoption?

Open adoptions have become increasingly common, with birth parents and adoptive parents keeping in regular contact for years after the adoption is completed. These adoptions generally include communication in the form of pictures, letters, emails, phone calls or in-person visits. In some adoptions, this communication may be mediated through the adoption agency, while in others communication will be handled entirely by the adoptive parents and birth parents.

However, each adoption is different; some adoptions may include only pictures and letters, while others include annual visits with each other. Additionally, some open adoptions may include additional forms of communication between the two parties. With the emergence of social media, many birth parents and adoptive parents communicate through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in addition to the traditional forms of communication.

The amount of contact shared between parties is largely determined by what the birth parents are comfortable with. Some birth parents may not want contact with their child and his/her adoptive parents at first, but as time passes they may decide they would like to receive updates about their child. Likewise, birth parents may want a high level of contact in the beginning, only to decide later that they aren’t comfortable with that much contact between them and the adoptive parents.

What are the Benefits of Open Adoption?

Regardless of the type of contact shared between the adoptive parents and birth parents, there are several benefits to completing an open adoption vs. a closed adoption.

First, updates about her child’s life can help birth mothers to heal from the pain of placing her child for adoption. Knowing that her child is happy and healthy can be incredibly comforting to a birth mother who is still trying to come to terms with the adoption. For adoptive parents, completing an open adoption provides them with the opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the child’s history. This is extremely helpful if the adoptive family has questions about the child’s medical history.

Open adoption can also be incredibly beneficial for the adopted child. This allows them to understand their adoption story from a young age and will show them where they come from. Adopted children who know where they come from and understand the circumstances that led to their being placed for adoption often have a better sense of self. They are able to accept their adoption much more quickly and they are able to understand the sacrifice their biological mothers made.

Is Open Adoption Legally Enforceable in Texas?

In many open adoptions, the birth parents and adoptive parents will sign an agreement outlining the frequency and type of communication expected from both parties. However, open adoptions in Texas are not legally enforceable.

If contact is lost by one party or the other, there is no legal obligation for them to reestablish contact.