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What's the difference between a closed and an open adoption?

There are many reasons that a family might choose to adopt a child, but it's important to understand that adoption can be a complicated legal matter. Understanding the two basic types of adoptions and the possible issues associated with each can help you be prepared for what's to come in the months ahead.

Historically, closed adoptions were used in almost all situations. In a closed adoption, the birthparents have no contact with the child or the adoptive parents after the adoption. In some cases, the birth and adoptive parents may never meet at all, particularly if the adoption occurs through an international agency. Closed adoptions are sometimes the only practical choice, but adoptive parents may also be interested in them to maintain privacy and ensure the child doesn't get confused. However, children of closed adoptions may have incomplete family medical histories or constantly wonder who their birth families are.

Open adoption keeps the birth and adoptive parents in contact after the adoption is complete, but how much contact there is can vary widely. In some cases, the child may know that one set of parents are biological and the other adoptive, while in others, the child may believe the birth parents are family friends. It's normal for adoptive parents to have reservations or feel threatened by an open adoptions, but many of these cases work out seemingly for the best interests of all involved.

Whether an adoption is closed or open, it is important that all issues pertaining to the adoption are handled correctly under the law. A family lawyer who handles adoption cases can help you understand whether a closed or open adoption may be better for your situation and work to ensure things go smoothly.

Source: FindLaw, "Open vs. Closed Adoption," accessed July 21, 2015

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