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Cooperative Adoption™

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cooperative adoption™

A trademarked term used in the book of the same name by Mary Jo Rillera and Sharon Kaplan to describe an adoption in which the birthparents, adoptive parents and adopted child have a continuing relationship with each other throughout the course of the child's life.

The birthparents may opt to visit regularly or during major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, and they also stay in phone or letter contact with the adoptive parents. Major decisions about the child are discussed with the birthparents. At a later point in life, but before age 18, the child may leave the adoptive family to live with one or both of the birthparents.

Such adoptions are of necessity OPEN ADOPTIONS and actually extend beyond most open adoptions in the active participation that birthparents play in a child's life.

The birthparents and adoptive parents may together decide on a birth name for the child, and the child will be aware of the identity of his birthparents and their relationship to him.

Proponents of cooperative adoption feel it is the most humane and compassionate form of adoption, and they are very opposed to traditional confidential adoptions, which they deem a form of "child abuse" because of the confidentiality aspect.

Cooperative adoption advocates believe a child can only benefit by knowing his birthparents as well as his adoptive parents. This knowledge also means the child will never need to SEARCH for his birthparents because they will be known and accessible.

In addition, cooperative adoption advocates argue that any conflicts between the birthparents and the adoptive parents can be worked out as disputes are worked out in all families. They view the birthfamily as a form of the extended family of the adoptive family and the child.

Those who disapprove of cooperative adoptions believe that birthparents placing the child under such an arrangement are not really ready for adoption and possibly should opt to parent instead of placing the child for adoption. In addition, they argue that the sense of ENTITLEMENT felt by the adoptive parents and the BONDING AND ATTACHMENT to the child could be hampered by continuous contact with the birthparents. They also believe such an arrangement would be very confusing to a child, who would have, at the least, two sets of parents, four sets of grandparents and a variety of other siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins and so forth.

If the birthparents should discontinue their relationship or divorce and then remarry, even more relatives would be introduced into the whole family, potentially causing greater confusion. Those who support cooperative adoption scoff at these contentions and insist that such problems can be worked out by intelligent adults. They believe additional relatives would be positive for the child, not negative.

Proponents of cooperative adoption also believe that more infant adoptions would occur if this option were more readily available. The total percentage of cooperative adoptions in the United States is small and is probably less than 1% of all infant adoptions.


Mary Jo Rillera and Sharon Kaplan, Cooperative Adoption: A Handbook (Westminister, Calif.: Triadoption, 1985).

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