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The Children’s Home Society of Virginia | Exploring Adoption in the 1990s

Since January of this year, we have been digging deep into our history. Each month, we have focused on a different decade, starting with when we were founded, the 1900s.  This month, we are exploring adoption in the 1990s.

adoption in the 1990s | three siblings in front of a Christmas tree smiling

Throughout the decades, we have discussed:

For 120 years, we have learned to adapt to best serve our children and communities.

During the 1990s, we pivoted again and began open adoptions. Keep reading to learn more.  

Open Adoption: What Is Open Adoption?

Open adoption is when biological parents have a relationship with their biological child. 

During open adoption, birth parents and/or other birth family members have some level of contact with both the adoptive parents and the adopted child, depending on what everyone is comfortable with.

Communication may take place through letters, phone calls, or visits. During COVID, we have seen many adoptive families and biological parents meet through Zoom and Facetime. 

Both families communicate in ways that are comfortable with them. This may include sending pictures and notes back and forth or celebrating holidays and birthdays together. 

Open adoption does not mean that both sets of parents raise the adopted child. The adoptive parents have permanent legal rights and responsibilities for the child.

Different Levels of Openness

  • In a fully open adoption, the adoptive parents, the adopted child, and the biological parents have direct contact with each other. Fully open adoption allows everyone to develop relationships with one another. But, the needs and wishes of everyone involved may change over time.
  • In a semi-open adoption, an agency caseworker will pass along letters and pictures between the biological parents and the adoptive family. Semi-open adoption allows for communication while maintaining privacy. Contact names and addresses are not shared in a semi-open adoption.

Open Adoption Benefits for the Child

Since we started open adoptions, we have seen how very healthy it is for the adopted child.

  1. Research shows that children do better in open adoptions because it gives the child a chance to learn how they came to be adopted. Open adoptions also allow children to ask questions about their family background.
  2. It is healthy for children to continue to have a relationship with biological parents for identity purposes, security, connection, and completeness. 
  3. Open adoptions allow for the adopted child to have a sense of belonging, which may lessen the feelings of abandonment. 
  4. The child is also able to connect to his or her cultural and ethnic background and ancestry.
  5. The adopted child has better access to important family medical history.
  6. The adopted child will have a wider circle of family and support. Attachment is very crucial for an adopted child.

adoption in the 1990s | mom and dad holding baby smiling on couch

Open Adoption Benefits for the Adoptive Parents

Open adoptions have many benefits for adoptive parents as well.

  1. Adoptive parents have more access to birth family members who can answer background questions and other questions the adoptive parents can not.
  2. Open adoptions allow for warm relationships between birth and adoptive families that can create uplifting, valuable, and lifelong connections for the adopted child, which lessens the sense of loss he or she may feel. 

Of course, there are always times when open adoption is not the right answer, especially when there is a past of abuse.

Other Important Steps for Adoption in the 1990s

Besides starting open adoption in the 90s, we elected our first female board president, Cheryl Jarvis, in 1993. Before this, leadership was primarily male-driven.

Cheryl was an adoptive parent of two, a community volunteer, and very active in the Junior League, which was a committee that managed the receiving homes early in CHS’s history.

Support Virginia Adoption & Child Welfare | 120th Anniversary

For adoption in the 1990s, we began open adoptions, something we still believe in today. Our goal is to always serve the best interest of our children. As the years have come and gone, we have adapted to serve the needs of our community better and better, year after year.

Stay tuned for November where we shed light on becoming one of the first Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Program sites in the country!

adoption in the 1990s | mom and dad with adopted older sonVirginia is still ranked last for the rate at which children age out of foster care, meaning the likelihood that children won’t be adopted before turning 18 is very high. Currently, there are 1,000 children up for adoption in Virginia.

If you want to give a child in need a forever home, you’re in the right place. Get in touch with us today: 804-353-0191. If you want to give financially to our cause, we would be forever grateful. Every dollar makes a difference in the life of a child, and no amount is too small.

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