Open Closed and Mediated Adoption

Closed or confidential adoption was standard practice in the past. In response to the psychological problems and genetic information gap caused by this practice, open adoption is becoming the mode of choice, and mediated adoption offers an intermediate solution.

Open adoption refers to information sharing and/or actual contacts between biological and adoptive parents. Communication may be limited to the time before the child is placed with the new parents, or it may continue as long as the parties involved remain interested in maintaining contact. Open adoption offers the opportunity to meet biological relatives or to maintain established ties if the child had lived with biological family members prior to adoption. Children in open adoption situations typically feel less rejected, have higher self-esteem, and adjust better. Changes to reduce or discontinue contact were initiated more often by birth parents than by adoptive families.

It appears wise to allow children who never knew or do not remember their birth parents to meet them early. Very young children take facts as they are and need no explanation. Having one mother who gave birth to the adoptee and another mother to live with is perfectly acceptable, particularly if in the child's mind it has always been that way.

In mediated adoption a third party shares information between biological and adoptive families without disclosing identities. Families who are unwilling to reveal their name or whereabouts can share information so as not to deprive the adoptee. Later, the child will be able to initiate contact with the birth mother, if desired. Concerns include possible misunderstandings or misinterpretations regarding birth parent-related information.

Nationally, states that permit open adoption seem to have a significantly higher adoption rate. This suggests that both biological and adopting parents may be more comfortable with having firsthand information about the child's family background or future prospects.

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