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What's the difference between an open and closed adoption?

Times are constantly changing and what was once considered the cultural norm 20 or 30 years ago certainly isn't the case now. Take for example adoptions. In the past, many – if not all – adoptions were closed. But nowadays, things are different. Many birthparents and adoptive parents are starting to see the benefits of an open adoption, making way for new and better arrangements in the end.

But if you've never gone through the adoption process, you might have questions – like so many of our Columbia readers do – about how adoptions work in Maryland and the United States. You may even be asking the question we've presented in today's post title: what's the difference between an open and closed adoption? Let's take a look.

As the name suggests, closed adoptions eliminate the connection a child can have with his or her birthparents. This is done through a series of legal documents that contain terms both the adoptive parents and the birthparents then agree to. In most cases, closed adoptions also eliminate contact between both sets of parents.

Many people nowadays consider closed adoptions to be unhealthy for children for a number of reasons. For starters, closed adoptions raise a lot of unanswered questions for the child, especially about why they were given up for adoption in the first place. In addition to that, closed adoptions also prevent a child from gaining full access to their family's medical history.

It's for these reasons and more that most adoptions in Maryland and the United States have shifted toward a more open model. With open adoptions, birthparents often continue to have contact with their child and the adoptive parents. Depending on the terms both sets of parents agree to when finalizing an open adoption, contact between child and birthparents can be as much or as little as is agreed to.

It's important to note that these agreements are contractually binding, meaning it’s a good idea to have a lawyer review or help you draft such an agreement so that you know what you're getting yourself into before you sign it.

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