Choosing to place a child can be one of the hardest decisions parents will ever make. They may go back and forth on the decision multiple times before making the decision. But choosing to place a child is not the only decision they will face. It is also up to the birth parents, along with the adoptive parents, to decide whether an adoption will be open or closed and what that might look like from day to day.

While open adoption is becoming more and more common, there are still those who choose to close their adoptions for various reasons, including the emotional well-being of both the child and themselves. Open adoption can also mean many different things: One might include yearly visits, while another may just be pictures and updates. With many states not having any laws to govern open adoption, it is plausible and common that the meaning of one’s open or closed adoption may change as years go by, as the child grows, and as the situation of the birth parent changes.

To open a closed adoption, or to make an adoption even more open, the place to start is with the adoption agency or adoption attorney. It’s not advisable to reach out directly to the adoptive parents, simply because these are the types of ongoing services an adoption attorney and agency would aid in and are trained to handle for the best interests of both parties. The birth parents would need to express to the agency or attorney their desire to open the adoption and what they are hoping that entails. The agency or attorney would typically reach out to the adoptive family with the request to see how they feel.

It is important to note that as the legal parents of the child, the adoptive parents are not required to amend the prior closed adoption, nor are they legally obligated to respond. However, that fact should not discourage a birth parent from reaching out. Many adoptive parents are educated on and growing to learn how healthy open adoption can be for a child. Even if they did not agree in the past, they may change their mind as time passes and the child begins to ask questions. The media does a horrible job of portraying both birth and adoptive parents and the relationship between them. The perspective has shifted, and the beauty of open adoption is beginning to be better understood and accepted. Reaching out through the proper channels and writing one’s desire down is the best path.

Watch a real adoptee’s experience with open adoption here.