Sometimes there will be a wealth of information and ongoing openness and contact with the birth family. In other instances there may be only very limited information available and the adoptive family may receive no identifying information about the birth family. In either case, adoptive parents have the important responsibility of helping their adopted child understand the circumstances of their adoption in a positive and sensitive way.
When adoptive parents enter into an open adoption with birth parents, they are committing to having some form of ongoing contact after the adoption is finalized. The terms of the contact will ideally be discussed at placement and may include a written agreement or covenant. In these instances, adoptive parents have an added responsibility to keep the birth parents informed of their address and information about how the child is doing in their day to day life. Although openness agreements are generally not legally binding, adoptive parents have a moral responsibility to first seek assistance from the birth parents or the adoption agency if problems arise. In some cases, the family court may be asked to assist in resolving disagreements.
Adoptive parents do have a right to privacy however. The amount of access (and parties who have access) should be explicitly defined in the openness agreement and the adoptive parents have the right to not have identifying information provided to third parties or published in any document without their specific consent. If the adoption is finalized in Ontario, the right to privacy does change once the adoptee reaches his or her 18th birthday. Since 2008, the Access to Adoption Records Act has allowed adoptees aged 18+ and the birth parents of those adoptees to request post-adoption information and other identifying information of the birth and adoptive families, regardless of any openness agreement or lack thereof.