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A commonly used and confusing term that refers to a wide spectrum of information-sharing practices. Such information may, at one extreme, simply refer to offering a birthmother (and birthfather) nonidentifying information to help choose adoptive parents while at the other extreme providing birthparents and adopting parents with identifying information about each other. Some adoption professionals see a sort of openness continuum.

Until the mid-1970s, birthparents were given almost no information about adopting parents. Today most agencies offer birthparents choices; for example, the birthmother may often be able to specify the religion of the adopting couple as well as their interests, age (within certain guidelines) and other factors. Many agencies offer birthparents nonidentifying resumes of prospective adoptive parents, and the birthparents then select the adoptive parents for their child.

Other agencies encourage actual meetings between prospective adoptive parents and birthparents, and still other agencies would like to eliminate CONFIDENTIALITY altogether.

OPEN ADOPTION refers to a full disclosure of identities between the parties involved. Some agencies are using the word "openness" as a kind of "soft" definition of open adoption. It's very important for prospective adoptive parents and birthparents to request a clear definition of "openness" or "open adoption" when contacting an adoption agency to ensure the agency's policies are compatible with their own beliefs and desires. (See also GENETIC DATA; MEDICAL HISTORY; NONIDENTIFYING INFORMATION; OPEN RECORDS.)

Find more information on "openness"

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