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Openness in adoption refers to an open attitude as well as actions and is an integral part of adoption legislation and practice in NSW. Open adoption recognises there is often a benefit for children when both their families (birth and adoptive) remain in contact with each other after an adoption order has been made.

An open attitude refers to the acceptance of the child having more than one set of parents and family and the willingness of adoptive and birth families to know about each other, exchange information and where possible to build relationships through direct contact with each other. An open attitude enables the child through their growing years the opportunity and comfort to talk about their life story and birth family, and to value and accept their history and experience.

Open adoption experiences

This video by Family and Community Services is about the experiences of people involved in open adoption.

What are the benefits of open adoption

Major benefits of openness in adoption for the child is that it provides them with opportunities to:

  • understand their background
  • develop relationships with their birth parents, siblings and other people who are important to the child
  • assist them in their understanding of their identity i.e. who they are and where they came from
  • remove the ‘unknown’ about who their birth parents and siblings are, and why they have some of the physical characteristics, interests and talents they have.

This can give the child a sense of wholeness and help the child grow up with added security about themselves and their background.

When adoption is being considered for a child in out-of-home care, contact may already be occurring between the child, their birth parents, siblings possibly other family members and you. Contact can happen by letter or email exchange, face-to-face meetings, Skype, telephone or any other way that you all agree on.

The form and frequency of contact is determined on an individual basis, with what is best for your child being the main focus. It is important that contact in adoption is mutually agreed to by all involved, and a significant part of the role of the child’s caseworker is to offer support to all parties in working out how to develop positive relationships.

Adoption service providers are committed to open adoption and make all efforts to ensure that adoptive parents have the same level of commitment. Adoptive parents are educated and assessed to ensure they have the capacity to support open adoption.

Open Adoption Hotline

The Open Adoption Hotline has been established to help carers and others learn more about the adoption process. Call 1800 003 227 between 9am - 4.30pm Monday to Friday or submit an online enquiry.

More information

The Thinking about adoption factsheet has more information about open adoption, and answers questions you may have about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adoption, overseas or intercountry adoption, costs, how to apply and more.

Services for adopted children under 18 years and their families is a factsheet about how Family and Community Services' Adoption Information Unit (AIU) can help with adoption plans, contact with birth parents, outreach, mediation and counselling.

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Last updated: 24 Sep 2019