What You Need to Know About Open Adoption
Whether you're an existing foster parent or you're looking for a way to grow your family, you may want to consider open adoption. Unlike closed adoption, open adoption allows the child to maintain some level of contact with their birth family. It's wise to seek advice from a family law specialist before you head down this route, though. In the meantime, here are a few facts you may need to know.
The Aim is to Promote Identity
Depending on the age of the child you're adopting, they may remember something about their birth family. While you'll still become their legal guardian, open adoption can help them maintain a sense of identity. You may also find that taking this approach makes it easier for you to explain to your child who their birth family is and how their adoption journey began.
An Assessment Will Take Place
As a sense of permanence is important for the adopted child, a caseworker will assess both your suitability and that of the birth family. They'll need to ensure you have the capacity to support the open adoption process. Similarly, they'll look at the level of commitment the birth family is likely to provide. It's worth remembering that the birth family doesn't necessarily mean the child's parents. It can include siblings, grandparents, and other relatives.
Consistent Communication is Key
Alongside your caseworker and your lawyer, you'll identify how communication will take place and how often it should occur. Depending on your circumstances, this doesn't always mean in-person contact. Some children benefit from video calls or phone calls, while others like letters. Communication methods can change over time, usually as the child ages. However, if you're unsure about any elements of a communication agreement you should speak with your family lawyer.
You Must Meet Certain Criteria
The decision to try open adoption doesn't mean the outcome is guaranteed. Alongside meeting basic criteria for your local area, the process will move through legal stages. At each stage, you have the opportunity to consider whether continuing with open adoption is right for you. Similarly, your lawyer may offer advice and your caseworker may decide that open adoption isn't appropriate. It's important to seek consistent legal advice to ensure you benefit from a fair assessment. Overall, you need to achieve what's best for the child involved.
Finally, always ensure you speak with your lawyer about the types of financial and emotional support you'll receive after the adoption takes place. For more information on family law, contact a professional near you.