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Should Adopted Children Have the Right To Build a Relationship With Their Birth Parents After They Reach Age 18?


The concept of child adoption remains a controversial issue despite the practice being in existence for centuries. Adoption describes the practice where the biological parents are stripped of their rights on their children, which are given to the adopting parents usually referred to as foster parents. Due to the complicated nature of raising children, it is necessary for the adoption process to be addressed adequately in efforts of addressing any inquisitions associated with the process. In the USA, approximately 120,000 cases of child adoption take place on an annual basis. These statistics illustrate the importance of discussing issues related to adoption. Since adoption often takes place at the tender age of a child, most children do not get the opportunity to interact and know their parents. The article asserts adopted children should not seek and subsequently proceed to build a relationship with their birth parents since their foster parents earned the right of parenthood legally and it might be emotionally disruptive to all the parties including the birth parents, the adopted individual and the adoptive parents.

Why they should not have a Relationship

The argument on not locating and interacting with birth parents even after reaching 18 years is grounded in the emotional turmoil associated with the process of seeking, reuniting and trying to establish a new relationship. The move is likely to adversely affect not only the foster parents but also the biological parents and the adopted individual. The biological parent is expected to feel embarrassment for failing to take up the responsibility to raise the child irrespective of the circumstances that led to the adoption (March pg. 411). The foster parents, on the other hand, may fail like their efforts for the past eighteen years are not adequately appreciated (Child Welfare Information Gateway pg. 4). While knowing the circumstances that led to the adoption may make the adopted individual understand it may also accrue negative repercussion while they feel unwanted and not appreciated. As such, in this particular case, closed adoption is preferred since it does not reveal the parents of the adopted individual.

The foster parents may feel betrayed in the event the adopted child seeks to reunite with their biological parents. The process of raising a child requires commitment financially, socially and emotionally. The foster parents might have sacrificed financially, on social matters and even devoted a lot of time for the benefit of the adopted individual (Child Welfare Information Gateway pg. 5). Therefore, it is deductible the parents will feel betrayed when the child reaches age eighteen and seek their biological parents. The foster parents have all rights of being parents to the adopted individual irrespective of the age of the person. Adoption is the legal transfer of child’s rights to the foster parent, and the contract does not expire at age eighteen but rather last a lifetime. Considering the emotional turmoil to the foster parents, it is evident that closed adoption where the child does not have an opportunity to interact with the birth parents is the preferred technique.

The process of adoption is described as the legal reassignment of child’s rights from the biological parents to the foster parents. Therefore, since the transfer is authorized, the birth parent has no rights whatsoever on the adopted child. As such, the information regarding their location and backgrounds should be concealed from the adopted children. It is essential to acknowledge parenthood is not grounded on the process of conceiving and giving birth but rather on the ability to care and provide for a child (Krahn and Sullivan pg. 42). Therefore a closed adoption is a better option since it illustrates closure for both the birth parent who legally relinquish their rights on their child and the adopted individual who has built a parent-child relationship with the foster parents.

A closed adoption is also preferential in the event the child was given up for adoption under poor conditions (Krahn and Sullivan pg. 29). Upon learning sensitive information associated with their adoption, the adopted individual may get vengeful and as such only seek the biological parent with the malicious intent of hurting them for the pain they caused.

Why they should have a Relationship

Despite the convincing arguments on why the children should not seek their biological parents, knowing and interacting with birth parents might be beneficial to both parties. It provides cohesion between and among the biological parents, the foster parents and the adopted individual. Since the adoptee has reached the age of majority, they are in a position to understand their biological parents and the circumstances of their adoption subsequently leading to reconciliation. Undeniably, while the foster parents might be in a place to adequately provide for the adoptee, there is a special bond between a child and a biological parent (Kothari pg. 13). Therefore, seeking and interacting with the birth parents might be essential in filling a particular void in the life of the adoptee subsequently facilitating fulfilment in their lives.

From a health perspective, knowing and interacting with the biological parents provides access to medical history which may have long-term implications of the adoptee. Through building a relationship with their biological parents the adopted individual accesses both genetic and family medical history that would be otherwise unavailable (Child Welfare Information Gateway pg. 13). Additionally, adoptees have rights like any other citizen to seek information and engage in any activity as long as one provides a logical justification for their actions.


The adoption process is a complicated and as such requires critical approach in addressing in efforts of effectively approaching on the inquisitions associated with the practice. Since the definition of the child approach illustrates that the birth parents legally transfer their rights on the child to the foster parents, there is no reason for the child to interact with the birth parent upon reaching the age of eighteen. The rights of the adoptive parents on the child do not expire when the adoptee reaches the age of majority. Moreover, the process of looking for and building a relationship might be emotionally disruptive to all the parties involved due to the complications associated with the process. Additionally, it is ultimately disrespectful to the foster parents who have invested physically, socially and emotionally.

Works cited

Child Welfare Information Gateway. “Preparing and Supporting Foster Parents who Adopt.” Child Welfare Information Gateway (2013): 1-14.

Kothari, Jayna. “The Child’s Right to Identity: Do Adopted Children have the Right to Know their Parentage.” Child’s Right and You ( (2010): 1-27.

Krahn, Lina and Richard Sullivan. “Grief and Loss among Birth Mothers in Open Adoption.” Canadian Social Work Review 32.2 (2015): 27-48.

March, Karen. “Birth Mother Grief and the challenge of Adoption Reunion Contact.” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 84.4 (2014): 409-419.


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