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Journal Issue: Adoption Volume 3 Number 1 Spring 1993

Perspectives on Open Adoption
Annette Baran Reuben Pannor


In conclusion, our decades of experience lead us to believe that open adoption is the best approach. It minimizes emotional and psychological harm, and it allows all parties to meet their continuing responsibilities to each other.

There is, however, more to be done. More research on the effects of open adoption is needed. Also, we must be vigilant to potential abuses. Scanning want-ad columns in newspapers across the country or the Yellow Pages of phone books in any of the major cities reveals the extent to which adoption has become a business and the degree to which open adoption can be used to expand that business. Under the heading Adoption Services appear such statements as, "You can choose your child's parents." The possibility of open adoption is frequently used to encourage relinquishment, particularly with young teenagers who are led to believe that they will have all the benefits of knowing their babies with none of the risks or responsibilities. Deceit of this kind unfairly encourages relinquishment and offers promises that often are not kept after the adoption occurs.

Thus, the central question today is not whether adoption shall be open or closed. Adoptive placements of older children are generally recognized as being open, and most infant adoptions now begin as open. Independent adoptions are predominantly open, and many agencies offer open adoption as an option. Rather, the challenge, in our view, is to ensure that open adoption continues to evolve in the best way possible. Every effort must be made to prevent abuse. The respective roles of birthparents, adoptive parents, and extended family in promoting the success of open adoption deserve careful consideration. However, in the final analysis, it is the adoptee whose well-being is central. Carefully designed, long-term studies are needed to investigate the impact of open adoption on adoptees more thoroughly and to generate recommendations for change and improvement.