Open Adoption

Authored by: Harold D. Grotevant

The Routledge Handbook Of Adoption

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138362505
eBook ISBN: 9780429432040
Adobe ISBN:


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Open adoption involves contact between a child’s adoptive and birth family members. Although most commonly found in the domestic adoption of infants, it is becoming increasingly common in adoptions from the child welfare system and international adoptions. The small but growing research literature suggests that contact is not inherently harmful for adoptive kinship network members, but that it does make family relationships more complex and dynamic. On the other hand, contact has the potential to be a very positive and enriching feature of adoptive family life. Successful relationships require a commitment on the part of the adults to work together effectively, supported by mutual empathy, good communication skills, and flexibility in day-to-day interaction. Adoption professionals need to be familiar with this growing family form and should be prepared to offer support and services as needed across time. In all situations, the safety and well-being of the child should be paramount. If these cannot be ensured, direct contact could be counter-productive. In the case of open adoptions, one size does not fit all; professionals and policymakers must approach contact with the assumption that each family’s situation will require individual attention.

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