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How does an open adoption work?

For Georgia families who are considering welcoming a child into their home, an open adoption might be a good option.

To give an overview, an open adoption is still in many respects like any other adoption.

The adoptive parents receive all the legal rights and responsibilities of being a child’s mother or father. The birth parents on the other hand legally surrender their parental rights.

However, in an open adoption, there is a formal agreement in place that allows birth parents, or even other relatives, to have ongoing contact with the child. How much contact, and on what terms, will depend on the terms of the agreement.

This is different from a situation where an adoptive parent might informally allow biological relatives to visit with the child. In this sort of case, the adoptive parent has no obligation to keep doing so.  On the other hand, open adoption agreements are binding.

Why would I want to consider an open adoption?

Open adoptions are not the right option for every case. However, Savannah residents interested in adoption might consider them for a number of reasons. Here are a couple of examples:

  • The adoptive parent may feel that ongoing contact with the birth family is in the best interest of the child.
  • Offering an open adoption may give biological parents the encouragement and assurance they need to consent to an adoption. Generally speaking, biological parents must either agree to surrender their rights or have them terminated before an adoption goes forward.

What could I put in an open adoption agreement?

Legally, adoptive families have a lot of leeway in what they can put in an open adoption agreement, so long as the birth parents agree to the terms.

They agreement can provide for a range of contact which can include, for example, periodic written updates to face-to-face visits.

However, adoptive parents should remember that whatever they do agree to is legally binding. They will be expected to follow through on the agreement even if they feel like circumstances have changed.

This is one reason why it is important that families understand open adoption fully and are aware of their rights and their responsibilities.