National Foster Care Month

What Is an Open Adoption?

Adopting a child can create a new family or expand an existing family. If you are considering adoption, you will need to make several important decisions. One of those may be whether to enter into an “open” adoption. It helps to know exactly what the term “open adoption” means when making such an important decision. Toward that end, a Murfreesboro adoption lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains how open adoption works and offers some things to consider when deciding whether toNational Foster Care Month participate in an open adoption.

Adoption Basics

There are several different paths that you can take to adopt a child. Family adoptions involve a relative by birth or marriage adopting a child, such as a step-parent adopting his/her spouse’s child or a grandparent adopting a grandchild. These adoptions are usually the simplest in terms of time, money, and legal steps. At the other end of the spectrum are international adoptions. Adopting a child from another country can be an extremely complex process that must abide by the laws of both the country of adoption and U.S. law. In between these extremes are agency adoptions, private adoptions, and adoptions involving children that are wards of the State of Tennessee. It is the agency and private adoptions that are most likely to offer the possibility of “open” adoption.

Open Adoption Basics

An open adoption is one in which the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) share information before and/or after the adoption of the child. There are, however, numerous variations and “levels” of open adoption. Things such as the type of information shared, the length of time the parties remain in communication, and the extent of communication between the child and the birth parent(s) can vary dramatically. For example, a birth mother might want extensive communication with the adoptive parents before the adoption but only limited communication after the adoption is finalized. Conversely, the parties to an adoption might agree that the child will have regular and extended communication with the birth mother post-adoption.

Who Sets the Terms of an Open Adoption?

One of the best things about an open adoption is that the birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) have the ability to discuss and agree upon the terms of the adoption prior to the birth and/or adoption of the child. It is, however, important to work with an experienced adoption lawyer when negotiating the terms of an open adoption to ensure that those terms are clear and fair to everyone involved. This is also the best way to avoid emotional and costly disputes down the road. 

What Are the Benefits of an Open Adoption?

Potentially, everyone involved in adoption can benefit from open adoption. The birth mother gets to maintain a connection to her child and may even get to spend quality time with the child as he/she grows up. At a bare minimum, a birth mother does not need to worry about where the child is or how the child is doing. Adoptive parents can benefit from communication with the birth parent(s) as well, particularly if the need for detailed family history arises. If the child becomes ill, for example, or the parents see signs of mental health issues it can be extremely helpful to be able to involve the birth parent(s) in treating the child. An adoptee can potentially benefit the most from an open adoption. Instead of an endless list of unanswered questions (“Where do I come from?” “Why did my mom give me up?” “Do I have siblings?”), an adoptee in an open adoption can easily get the answers to those questions. It can also be emotionally beneficial to grow up with an “extended” family that loves you.

Contact a Murfreesboro Adoption Lawyer

If you have questions or concerns about adoption in the State of Tennessee or are contemplating an open adoption, contact a Murfreesboro adoption lawyer to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.

Stan Bennett