Open Adoption

Adoption in the Best Interest of the Child

Main Page Domestic Adoption Adoptee Information Planning to Place Planning to Adopt Adoption Reform

American Association of
Open Adoption Agencies

The purpose of these AAOAA pages is to give you the best information possible about adoption.  The information here will help you find the agency providing the highest quality of infant and older child adoption services.

These pages are placed online as a public service. They were originally placed online in February of 1996 and have remained virtually unchanged since 1997. The truths of adoption change little. The business of adoption is constantly changing. These pages are now, the summer of 2005, being updated to reflect some of the changes. As the attached pages are updated the original pages written 10 years ago will be archived and still available to the public. I have been fortunate to receive messages from hundreds of people over the past 10 years thanking me for the information on these pages.  Sadly, many regret that they did not know this information sooner. Others are thankful as these pages helped guide them to make positive decisions. All have been thankful the information is available.

One new change is that now revenue from Google and other advertisers help support these pages. Please be warned that there is no necessary connection between the agencies that may be so advertised and the recommendations on these pages. The agencies advertised may be excellent agencies, or they may be very dangerous.  Be careful. Understand well what is written on the pages before you select an agency to continue the most delicate and crucial process in life, the expanding of your family for a new member.

May God bless your decision making process,
Bill Betzen LMSW (Emeritus)
July 22, 2005

AAOAA Statement of Purpose:

We are committed to providing and encouraging the provision of adoption services of the highest quality. We approach the issue of quality in adoption from three basic directions:

  1. Open Adoption is the healthiest form of adoption. We define open adoption as a form of adoption in which the birth family and the adopted child enjoy an ongoing, in-person relationship.
  2. Adoption happens best within a progressive, non-profit agency setting. Featuring accountability, community ownership, a leveling of socioeconomic issues, and a systems perspective that seeks to balance the interests of all parties involved, agencies offer the most promising foundation for quality services.
  3. Ethical standards are of utmost importance. Given the extraordinary vulnerability of all the participants in adoption, it is crucial that services are provided according to the highest standards. We are keenly conscious that, for all its potential, there are painful dimensions to adoption. We recognize the importance of family preservation and view open adoption as an extension of that thrust. The essence of open adoption is respect and candor.

A more detailed expression of the guiding beliefs for AAOAA is found in "A Statement of Beliefs" compiled by Jim Gritter and presented at the Fifth National Conference on Open Adoption, May 3-5 1995, Traverse City, Michigan.

The experience of traid members has led to these adoption beliefs. The first addition to our AAOAA Library is the keynote address given by Rev. Tom Brosnan, an adoptee, at the 1996 National Maternity and Adoption Conference for Catholic Charities USA. It was given in April, 1996 in San Antonio, Texas. It is about the experience of adoption. The talk received an extended ovation and was the center of discussion at the conference. The title of the talk was "Strengthening Families".

Finding Agencies meeting AAOAA standards:

The AAOAA has not yet evolved beyond the ideals supported in the bi-annual conferences in Traverse City Michigan by Jim Gritter and Catholic Human Services of Traverse City.  (These conferences are in the spring of every odd numbered year.)

The documents linked in these web pages are given as guidance for families involved in the adoption process.  These pages are for families planning adoption who want their children to have the healthiest adoption process possible. There is also information provided for people now living adoption who may be searching, or who may be interested in helping change adoption laws so as to reflect what has been learned through human experience and research over the past 30 years.

In February of 2000 the Child Welfare League of America ( led the way with a powerful update of their nationally recognized CWLA Standards of Excellence for Adoption Services.  These stardards are closer to meeting the AAOAA standards than ever before.  It is strongly recommended that these new CWLA standards be studied and followed by all child placement agencies. Since the CWLA with 1000 member agencies is the largest national affiliation of child placement agencies in the world, the standards of the AAOAA have also taken a wonderful step forward.


Special Notice: A very basic adoption question has been answered by hundreds of adoptees on the Adoptee Internet Mailing List pages. These adoptees have answered the question,
"What do you wish your adoptive parents had known?". 

Every person planning the adoption of a child should read these hundreds of answers very carefully. Then hopefully the child they adopt will not have the same concerns. In spite of these questions having been gathered on a public bulletin board, there is a remarkable consistency to the answers adoptees give on this question.

Personal note by Bill Betzen:

While there is no formal AAOAA approval for the recommendations given in the Domestic Infant Adoption web pages I have created, it is hoped that the recommendations therein are in keeping with the spirit of AAOAA. Following are links to the information on those web pages: (If you find many topics of interest below it is recommended you go directly to the Domestic Infant Adoption home page. Working from that page will speed the loading and reading of the sections you are interested in.)

The page called "Recommendations for Anyone Considering Placement of a Child", while it was written for parents considering placement of a child, is strongly recommended for any parent considering the adoption of a child into their home as well. These issues affect everyone involved in adoption. This is one document and includes the following sections:
When is the term "Birth Parent" used?
What "Birth Parent Right" is never talked about by Adoption Agencies on the Internet?
What an Open Adoption Should Be:

What Open Adoption is NOT
The Reasons You Want Only a Fully Open Adoption
The Support for Open Adoption Found In Current Research
Why Work With an Adoption Agency?
What is the Main Mission of the Agency, Finding Babies or Finding Families?
How to Search for a Good Open Adoption Agency?
This section includes one separate document which is a checklist you may print out. It reflects the recommendations given in these pages. It is a guide to help in the selection of an agency.

The pages called "Recommendations for Adopting Parents" include the following topics:
The Adoption of a "healthy anglo infant" within a year?
Why the statement that there are forty families waiting for every infant is wrong.
The Adopting Parent Outreach Program
- An article
A Statement of Beliefs - A formula for adoption quality - Jim Gritter
Infant Adoption Costs and Related Issues - An article
Adoption and the Internet Revolution!

Again, if you find many topics of interest above, the loading and reading of the sections you are interested in will go faster if you go directly to the Domestic Infant Adoption web pages.

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Tapestry Books: Your complete source for adoption related books since 1990.
Tapestry Books: Your complete source for adoption related books since 1990.
Main Page Domestic Adoption Adoptee Information Planning to Place Planning to Adopt Adoption Reform
Bill Betzen, LMSW (Emeritus), Webauthor
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