NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 4, 2004

Because of open adoptions, there are now more babies waiting for adoption than there are adoptive parents, says the Wall Street Journal.

Open adoptions allow for birth mothers and adoptive parents to stay in contact with each other through the child's growth and development. They also enable the birth mother to choose the parents she wants for her baby.

According to the National Center for State Courts:

  • Domestic adoptions declined from 77 percent of all adoptions in 1992 to 46 percent in 2001, primarily due to the decline in unwanted pregnancies due to more birth control and abortion, and the prevalence of single mothers wanting to raise their own children.
  • However, agencies offering open adoptions appeal to mothers who wish to have a say in who is raising their child and who want to be informed and updated on their child; in fact, 18 states have now made open adoptions legally enforceable.
  • In 18 states, open adoption is legally enforceable; it is most common in the West and Midwest, and in Minnesota, 80 percent of all adoptions are open.

Many adoptive parents, however, are concerned over potential problems with open adoption. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute notes that 82 percent of Americans are worried that the birth parent would one day try to reclaim their biological child. State laws make it next to impossible for efforts like this to succeed, but a few highly publicized cases have caused families to be wary of biological parents.

Furthermore, 90 percent of birth mothers want to know how their child is doing after adoption, and if given that opportunity, they will be more likely to consider adoption for an unwanted pregnancy.

Source: Suein L. Hwang, "U.S. Adoptions Get Easier," Wall Street Journal, September 28, 2004, National Center for State Courts, "Adoption." modified August 9, 2004.

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