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by Patricia Irwin Johnston, MS


Let's begin with a discussion of the history of adoption and some philosophical debates going on today in order to be prepared to discuss the question of whether you are prepared for an open adoption.

You may be surprised to know that confidential adoption (sometimes called closed adoption)-the kind of adoptions where birthparents and adoptive parents have virtually no identifying information about one another and are expected never to contact one another-is actually much newer than is open adoption.

For centuries, in nearly every culture around the world, children in need of parents were cared for by extended family members or someone else known to them in close-knit communities. There was no secrecy about the issue of being fostered or adopted then, primarily because "everyone knew" who the birthparents of these children in need were and there was no attempt to try to hide the fact that these children were not the genetic children of the family raising them. Social custom was what linked these families, not law. Adoption still works this way in most tribal cultures around the world, and indeed much about this traditional approach to adoption in western culture is like the practice of kafala in Islamic culture, in which children in need are taken into guardianship by caregivers. Huda, about.com's guide to Islam, describes the relationship like this.


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