Until the 1990s, if a baby was given up for adoption, there was a two-in-three chance it would be a “closed” adoption, meaning the adoptive family had no contact with the birth parents while the child was growing up. But today, the trend has completely reversed. In fact, new statistics show that a whopping 95% of adoptions are “open adoptions.” That’s the term for when adoptive parents and children have regular contact with the birth parents, via email, phone calls, or in-person visits.
What’s going on? Experts say you can thank the TV show “Teen Mom,” which prominently featured an open adoption, and the movie “Juno.” They helped take some of the stigma out of women having a child out of wedlock. They also encouraged more young Moms to stay involved in their children’s lives.
Plus, many new studies show that open adoptions are not as dangerous as experts once thought they’d be. For example: Critics used to worry that open adoptions would be disruptive, and make it harder for birth mothers to “let go” after they decided to give a baby up for adoption.
But according to a new 30-year study, families involved in open adoptions tend to report being “more satisfied” with the process than families in closed adoptions. And birth mothers who helped choose the adoptive family, in an open adoption, tend to report less regret and sadness about their decision than mothers who gave up their babies in a closed adoption.
Also know this: Psychologists used to worry that open adoptions would confuse kids, and ruin their self-esteem. But new research shows a direct link between the amount of contact adopted kids have with their birth parents, and how positive they feel about themselves.