Archive for the ‘Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute’ Category

Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections

March 24, 2012 Comments off

Openness in Adoption: From Secrecy and Stigma to Knowledge and Connections (PDF)
Source: Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute

While openness has become common practice in domestic adoptions in this country (Vandivere, et al., 2009), it is an alien concept for many seeking to adopt, as well as for their friends, families and others with whom they interact in their professional and personal lives. In fact, the first national survey on public attitudes related to adoption, published by the Adoption Institute in 1997, found considerable ambivalence in the general public toward even a moderate level of openness; only 16 percent of respondents, for example, approved of birthmothers in most adoptions occasionally sending cards or letters to adoptive families, with others saying it was okay in some (40%) or very few (23%) cases. According to the adoption professionals who responded to a new survey – described in this report – understanding of the realities of openness in adoptions today is an area in which considerable progress is needed.

Since the practice of openness took hold in the U.S. in the 1980s and 1990s, adoption professionals, researchers and the affected parties themselves have identified many benefits for birth families, adopted children and adoptive parents. Some challenges have been documented as well, including ones stemming from early misunderstandings or conflicting expectations. It is critically important for adoption professionals, as well as members of birth and adoptive families, to understand openness and the factors that are important for shaping effective open adoption relationships, not only in making decisions related to openness before child placement, but also in navigating open relationships over time.

This report is the first in a series the Institute plans to publish that will address the phenomenon of openness in domestic infant adoptions. It summarizes research knowledge on the topic and presents findings from a survey of 100 infant adoption programs in the U.S. regarding their practices around openness and the qualities that facilitate successful open adoption relationships. The institute is also in the final stages of preparing a related curriculum for preadoptive parents and expectant parents considering adoptive placement for their children.


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