Several decades ago, nearly every adoption was closed. During this time, people believed that a closed adoption was necessary for a child’s well-being. Today, the story looks much different. Thanks to passionate leaders and parents, over 95 percent of domestic adoptions now have some degree of openness.

There are different kinds and levels of openness in open adoption relationships. On top of this, there are many types of open adoptions, from embryo adoption to domestic adoption. As you can see, modern open adoptions can take all shapes and forms. However, many of them have one thing in common: the characteristics healthy adoptive parents exhibit. Below, you’ll find five characteristics that adoptive families should strive for in open adoptions.

1) Commitment

Keeping commitments is essential for every healthy relationship. When it comes to open adoption, you’ll probably make quite a few commitments—from attending appointments to sending letters after a child is born. Every responsibility you take on in regard to your open adoption is extremely important. After all, the last thing you want to do is violate trust with your child’s birth parent(s).

Although sticking to your word perfectly might seem stressful, you don’t have to sign yourself up for more than you can handle. It’s much easier to add openness than to try and remove it. So, start small. Develop your relationship in a sustainable way that doesn’t lead to you overcommitting. Over time, you’ll have a better sense of what promises you can make and keep.

2) Clear Expectations

If you want to be a great adoptive parent, you’ll need to set clear expectations. Depending on your upbringing and experience, this might be easier or more difficult. Luckily, regardless of previous history, everyone can learn how to set clear expectations.

As you determine the level of openness you want in your adoption, think about the expectations you want to set, too. Will you call the birth parent(s)? How do both parties feel about surprise contacts? These questions might feel uncomfortable at first, but asking straightforward questions is the best way to set clear expectations.

3) A Desire to Learn 

One of the top characteristics of adoptive parents is a desire to learn. Although accepting your “newness” in this area might be difficult, it’s key to becoming a healthy adoptive parent. There are a lot of things that you don’t know, and that’s OK. As long as you stay open to learning new things, you’ll position yourself for success.

4) Accepting Unpleasant Emotions

As you consider open adoption, you’ll probably experience a wide range of emotions. More specifically, you’ll probably experience a few negative emotions. You might feel fearful that the birthparents will change their minds later on and try to get their child back. You also might be worried that having two sets of parents will greatly confuse your child. Overall, these emotions and thoughts are totally normal.

Whenever worries and concerns come up, it’s important to remind yourself that they’re absolutely warranted. Having children and a family is a big undertaking, but it’s also a big opportunity. If you ever feel fear taking over, try to remind yourself of the benefits forming a new family through adoption offers.

5) Putting the Child First

At the end of the day, an adopted child should take precedence over everything else. Their well-being should be considered every step of the way. For most children, their needs and wants will change as they grow. Overall, it’s impossible to know how your child will relate to this experience and what they’ll need. Due to this fact, many adoptive parents seek the counsel of a trained professional that can help them do what’s best for the child.

Open adoption is often complicated, but it’s worth it for so many people. As soon as you decide that open adoption is right for you, it’s time to start developing the characteristics of successful open adoptive parents. Although the five characteristics above are by no means comprehensive, they are components of a strong foundation that you can start building today.

To learn more about the characteristics and benefits of open adoptions, reach out to the National Registry for Adoption.


Mackenzie Martin is a content writer who loves to see her client’s Google search rankings grow. As a writer by day and an author by night, she has an undying love for well-crafted copy and the impact it can have. Connect with her via email:

Image Credits: Unsplash