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​​1.5.5 Open or Closed Adoption?


With domestic adoptions in New Zealand open adoption is now being widely practiced.

Mary Iwanek , the former National Adoptions Manager  defined open adoption as “…that state where birth-parents and adopted parents, as well as the child know each other and have direct contact with each other – to a greater or lesser degree”  Iwanek also stated that open adoption is based on the belief that children need information to feel whole and to help them form their personal identity and thus the focus of open adoption is to ensure that a child has continual access to all of his or her family members.

Open adoptions in Intercountry Adoption are rare. The likely reasons include:  the birth parents not being alive, their whereabouts are unknown, or they want no further responsibility for the children. If the birth parents are alive there are practical difficulties in remaining in contact, e.g. distance, cost of communications, language barriers.

Another likely reason is legal constraints (in some countries details of the adoptive parents are kept confidential by court order).

Many countries now however are recognising the importance to children of having identifying information about the child’s birth parents/biological families and of meeting the biological families some time in the future. Chile is one country as an example that is collecting as much information as possible about the biological family for this purpose. Refer to the Searching and Reunion section in this document).​​