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What's the difference between open and closed adoptions?

Several decades ago it was often the opinion of parents adopting children -- and people giving their children up for adoptions -- that it was best to keep the identities of the original birth parents confidential. As such, many adopted children were kept in the dark, and they didn't know who their original parents were. Some of these children may never have even known that they were adopted.

When the identities of the original birth parents were kept confidential like this, the adoption was known as a "closed adoption." In these cases, the biological parents often never knew where their child went, and the adoptive parents never got to meet or learn the identities of the biological parents. The transfer of the child to the new parents would be carried out by an adoption agency, and the records about the original parents would be confidentially sealed and inaccessible.

Because the files of closed adoptions are usually sealed, children must carry out a special legal procedure to "open" their closed adoption records. Fortunately, unsealing records like this is not entirely difficult to do, and it has led to the reunification of many parents and the children they gave up for adoption years previous.

In contrast to closed adoptions, open adoptions support the biological parents in meeting -- and often selecting -- the adoptive parents. In these cases, the parents may even stay in touch over the years, and the biological parents might even visit their child. This is how most adoptions are carried out today.

If you're an adopted child and your adoption was "closed," you may be interested in finding out how to get your adoption records opened. A North Carolina family law attorney can assist you with this process.

Source: FindLaw, "Open vs. closed adoption," accessed Oct. 06, 2017