MN Matches Nat’l Trend Toward More Open Adoptions

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It used to be that there was a lot of secrecy when adoptions took place, but not anymore.

A new report finds that only about 5 percent of infant adoptions in the United States now take place without some ongoing relationship between birth parent, and the adoptive family.

Based on a survey of 100 adoption agencies, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute said the new norm is for birth parents considering adoption to meet with prospective parents.

Of the roughly 14,000 to 18,000 infant adoptions each year, about 55 percent are fully open. About 40 percent are “mediated” adoptions, where the agency facilitates the communication. The remainder are closed adoptions.

“We are seeing it in Minnesota. And I think it’s been a couple of decades in the making,” said Alexis Oberdorfer, vice president of Adoption Services for Children’s Home Society.

Oberdorfer said it comes down to what the preference of the birth parents are.

According to the report, most participants have a positive experience with open adoptions. In general, it found that adoptive families are more satisfied with the process, and birth mothers have less regret and worry.

Oberdorfer says there is a range of possible involvement — everything from no contact, to completely open to somewhere in the middle.

“Might want a letter, might want pictures, might want an update on how the child is doing,” Oberdorfer said.

The key, she said, is to know up front what it is you want. She suggests getting professionals to help figure out what the relationship will look like.

“And not promising something that you cannot commit to,” she said.

Oberdorfer called open adoption a lifelong journey, a relationship you are going to be in for a long time.

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