There are several issues that must be decided in every adoption and the determination between a closed or open adoption merits a high priority for the individuals involved. In adoption terminology, openness refers to the degree of contact and information exchanged between the birth and adoptive parents.
While there is a tendency to label an adoption as either open or closed, the reality can be described far more accurately as a continuum between closed and open. For an adoption to be purely one or the other in the present day occurs rarely, with 95% of all cases existing somewhere in between, although that was certainly not always the case.
Prior to the 1980’s, accepted practice was for all adoptions to be completely closed, a well-meant but harmful policy. Closed adoptions were intended to prevent damage to the people involved and to protect privacy in eras and cultures where shame could be attached to anyone involved, most often the birth mother. The arguments against closed adoption range from the practical benefits of a detailed medical history to the psychological advantages a strong sense of identity in an adopted child.
Like any relationship, those between birth and adoptive parents can be difficult. Differing goals, priorities and needs will almost certainly lead to differences of opinion that could turn into points of contention. Even with these trials, however, it should be noted that the majority of those who have an adoption with some degree of openness report they are happy with it. As acceptance of the practice of openness grows, the number of birth mothers insisting upon some degree of communication has increased to upwards of 90%.
As time progresses and the relationship between the parties involved naturally changes, it is often wise to seek out the assistance of an adoption counselor. These professionals can then help navigate communication with as little hurt to anyone involved as can be managed.