Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Open Adoption Definition:

An adoption in which the natural parents select the adoptive parents, and may give the natural parents some access to the child.

Related Terms: Closed Adoption, Adoption, Adoption of Convenience

In Matter of Adoption of Male Child, the Supreme Court of Hawai'i wrote:

"In an open adoption, the natural mother may select the adoptive parents for her child."

In A.M. v. British Columbia, these words were used:

"An open adoption ... would give the natural mother access to the child but subject to the discretion (of the prospective adoptive parents) in assessing if this is what the child wishes and is in his best interests."

Similarly, in Re E.H.:

"In terms of the permitted contact between an adopted child and a biological parent, however, an open adoption can mean regular face-to-face visits, or a simple exchange of photographs or letters. The degree of openness is entirely up to the adoptive parents."

In the 2012 edition of AmJur., the authors propose this summary of the law:

"In some jurisdictions, in what is sometimes known as an open adoption, the natural mother may select the adoptive parents for her child.

"In the case of a closed adoption, the relinquishing parent surrenders his or her rights to unknown parties.

"Open adoptions have also been described as adoptions in which the court supplements an order of adoption with a provision directing that the adopted child have continuing contacts and visitation with members of his or her biological family; such adoptions have been specifically rejected by some courts, in the absence of legislative authority therefor"

In Saskatchewan v. G.H., Justice Wilkinson of the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan noted:

"(A)n open adoption ... in practical effect can range from no family contact at all, beyond supplying photographs of the children from time to time, to an arrangement that offers liberal access, depending entirely on the adoptive parents’ preferences."


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