The Open Adoption Timeline

1978
The Adoption Triangle is published. Authored by Ruben Pannor, Arthur Sorosky, and Annette Baran, the book is the first to deal with the emotional impact of closed adoption records on adoptees.
1982, October
Independent Adoption Center is founded by Bruce Rappaport, bringing open adoption services to families in California.
1988
Nebraska implements exchange-of-information contracts, 2-year voluntary agreements which allow for limited communication between birth and adoptive parents.
1993
Oregon implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
1993, January
Oxford's Social Work publishes Open Adoption of Infants: Adoptive Parents' Perceptions of Advantages and Disadvantages by Deborah Siegel, showing adoptive parents had overwhelmingly positive experiences with open adoptions.
1995
New Mexico implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
1995, January
California implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
1996, September
Ohio grants birthparents the legal right to an open adoption, however the law does not make open adoption agreements enforceable.
1997
Montana implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts. To be enforceable, agreements must be made after relinquishment, and can be overturned by the courts for a variety of reasons.
1997, July
Rhode Island implements legally enforceable post-adoption privileges agreements, more commonly recognized as open adoption agreements.
1998, June
Openness in Adoption: Exploring Family Connections becomes the first publication of the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Program (MTARP). The study showed that adoptees whose adoptive and birthparents had collaborative relationships were doing better on ratings of psychosocial adjustment. As of 2012, the project was still active, with dozens of associated publications.
2002, January
Louisiana implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2003, September
Texas implements legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements.
2003, October
Oxford's Social Work publishes the second part of Deborah Siegel's longitudinal study. Interviewing the same families, whose children were then school-aged, the researcher found the adoptive parents continued to believe open adoption was in the best interests of their children.
2005, January
New Hampshire implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2005, June
Nevada implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts, although the law imposes a limit of 120 days in which to begin correcting any breach of the contract.
2005, July
Alaska implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2005, December
New York implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2006, January
Arizona implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
Indiana implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
Maryland implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts. Agreements must be found by the courts to be "in the adoptee's best interests" to be enforceable.
2006, August
Minnesota implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2007, October
Connecticut implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2007, December
Juno is released in US theaters, bringing the concept of open adoption to a mass audience.
2008, July
Massachusetts implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts. To be enforceable, agreements must be approved by the court prior to the adoption decree.
2009
Washington implements legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements.
2009, November
The US Department of Health & Human Services publishes the results of the first national survey of adoptive families, showing most private adoptions are open. The full results can be found at the HHS website and our summary can be found in our Winter 2010 newsletter.
2009, December
Teen Mom premiers on MTV, bringing the story of Catelynn and Tyler to homes across the US.
2010
Virginia implements legally enforceable post-adoption contact agreements.
2010, October
Pennsylvania implements legally enforceable open adoption contracts.
2012, July
I'm Having Their Baby debuts on Oxygen network. The show follows the stories of several birthmothers as they contemplate open adoption.
2012, August
The Baby Wait TV series begins on the Logo network, featuring IAC family Mark & Paul.
2012, December 22
Open adoption trailblazer Ruben Pannor passes away at the age of 90. Pannor is the author of the seminal open adoption book, The Adoption Triangle
2013, May
Georgia governor signs legislation making post-adoption contracts legally enforceable. Independent Adoption Center staff was influential in helping this become law in Georgia.