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  • Serving Delaware County, PA

Challenges with Open Adoption


One of the more exciting developments in adoption over the past 30 years has been the rise of so-called “open” adoptions. Historically, mothers who gave up their children for adoption never saw them again. The adoptive family also did not disclose to their children that they were adopted until the child reached adulthood, if ever.

Today, many parents are going with open adoptions, where they tell their child from the very beginning that they were adopted and have a birth mother. The birth mother often plays some role in the child’s life or has some amount of contact. However, open adoptions present many challenges, which you should discuss with a Media adoption lawyer.


No two open adoptions are identical. Although your coworker might have an amazing relationship with a birth mother, this does not mean that yours will be quite the same. Having realistic expectations going into the adoption is key and helps you weather the difficult times.

The birth mother also needs realistic expectations of what her role will be. She is not the parent—you are. Role confusions can often be a source of conflict, and the risk increases when parties do not have a clear idea at the outset of where boundaries are located. Your attorney can help you think through the relationship that you want to have with the birth mother.


Knowledge is power, and there are many conflicts that can potentially erupt around communication. For example, a birth mother might expect to receive information from you about the child before other people. Imagine your child has an injury, which you post about on social media. Will the birth mother get upset that you didn’t call her? Was she expecting to know?

Poor communication often stems from unclear boundaries. However, you might also feel overwhelmed with life and simply forget. Maintaining communication is a definite challenge.

Growth and Change

Life does not stand still. Over the next decade, you could experience many changes:

  • You might move. This could make it harder to maintain contact with the birth mother.
  • You could separate or divorce your spouse and remarry.
  • You might become so overburdened with work that you forget all about the birth mother.

Allowing the relationship with a birth mother to evolve naturally can often be complicated—especially if she is resisting changes. There is also no authority figure who resolves conflicts you can turn to.

The birth mother’s life also could change in ways that make it harder to continue the relationship. For example, she might develop serious problems regarding substance abuse, violent relationships, mental health issues, etc. Sometimes, it makes rational sense to want to pull away. You should meet with a lawyer to discuss how to continue or change the relationship, depending on individual circumstances.

Our Delaware County Adoption Lawyers Can Help

To have a successful open adoption, our clients need to go in with their eyes wide open. At Barbara Flum Stein & Associates, our Media adoption lawyers work closely with adoptive parents to help them think through their expectations and goals. Please contact us today to schedule a consultation.



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