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Is Open Adoption Still an Open Question?

When open adoption advocate Betty Jean Lfton died in November, this issue surfaced once again. In the New York Times obituary, Margalit Fox wrote that when Lifton’s Twice Born: Memoirs of an Adopted Daughter was published in 1998, “Adoption in general was a veiled topic, and adoptees — assuming they were told anything — rarely knew their given names, their birth parents’ identities or the precise circumstances of their adoptions.” Though laws and practices have loosened in some jurisdictions, for many adoptees these earlier strictures have shaped their lives. Lifton, born to a 17-year-old Jewish woman and adopted into a Jewish family at 2 1/2, wrote, “The old saying that the law is always years behind social change is true concerning adoption, because over the past few decades, I have seen society opening from within. The trend toward open adoption arrangements continues.”