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An open infant adoption is the new normal

Residents in Pennsylvania thinking about adopting a child may be interested in the results of a recent survey. As many may know, it was once true that the birth parent and the adoptive parent typically had little or no contact in an infant adoption. However, the survey that was released in March shows that this is no longer the case. Indeed, the new normal is such that the birth parent often meets with the adoptive family prior to the adoption and may even pick the family as well.

Conducted by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, the study surveyed 100 adoption agencies and found that in 95 percent of infant adoptions, the birth parent and the adoptive parent had some degree of contact. Of the 14,000 to 18,000 infant adoptions each year, about 55 percent are completely open. This means that the birth parent may still have contact with their child.

About 40 percent were so-called "mediated" adoptions. In these kinds of adoptions, the birth parent's contact with the child may be restricted to letters and pictures. Still, this allows the child to know who their parents are and to have an understanding about their biological relatives. For the birth parent, it provides them with an added sense of security knowing that their child is receiving good care.

One issue that does arise in an open adoption is simply managing expectations. In the beginning, the birth parent may wish to have more contact with their child than the adoptive family is comfortable with. However, as time goes on, the situation flips as the adoptive family wants the child to have contact with their birth parent, but that parent may have moved on with their life. Nonetheless, for Pennsylvania families considering an adoption, an open adoption process may leave them feeling more satisfied and less stressed.

Source: Associated Press, "New report details increase in 'open' adoptions," David Crary, March 21, 2012

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