Court to Knesset: Take another look at open adoptions

With open adoptions, biological parents get to maintain some level of periodic contact with their child even as the adoptive parents serve as the child’s primary family.

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August 14, 2016 20:00
1 minute read.
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Adult and child holding hands (illustrative). (photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)

 
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The Knesset should reconsider its preference for closed adoptions over open adoptions, the Beersheba Family Court ruled in ordering an open adoption over the objection of the attorney-general, a social worker and the adopting family.

In closed adoptions, the biological parents must commit not to have contact with their child other than if the adopting family and the child decide otherwise.

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With open adoptions, there are a variety of arrangements by which biological parents get to maintain some level of periodic contact with their child, even as the adoptive parents serve as the child’s primary family.

In the case before the court, the biological father could not be ascertained and the biological mother had to give up her child after a few years due to her own personal instability.

An adoptive family eventually took the child on for a trial period with the intention of adopting the child.

By the time they moved to adopt, the biological mother had achieved a greater amount of stability and was even raising a new child.

However, both a social worker who evaluated the mother and the Attorney-General’s Office told the court that the mother was still too unstable and that giving her continued access to the child would harm the child.

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The court said that part of the reason that the expert and the state came to this conclusion was outdated guidance by the Knesset, which preferred closed adoptions.

Judge Alon Gavison wrote that such thinking underplays the positive impact that biological parents can have on their children in the long term and focuses too strongly on the short-term potential negatives.

Gavison said that the law on the issue was passed before more recent research showed a leaning toward open adoptions, even if that requires messier arrangements.

The court even said that should social workers see some negative effects from ongoing contact with biological parents, that this should not lead to immediately ceasing contact, but a careful evaluation of the particular circumstances.

In general, the court said each child-parent relationship should be carefully analyzed without generalized rules against open adoption.

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