Infant adoption, though perpetually controversial, is a practice that has endured through the ages, dating way back into the time of the Roman Empire, where adopting young men in order to serve as heirs to dynasties was not an uncommon practice. This carried well into the Middle Ages, also as a means to produce heirs for a certain bloodline, and well into the Civil War and immigration eras, where it was utilized in order to complete (and sometimes, create) families torn by all sorts of misfortune. Today, even though the procedures may be different and a little more legally founded, the principle remains the same: to care for a child that has either lost his parents or does not have parents available, in order that he may still grow up with a family, considered to be the most basic unit of a human community.
There are many reasons nowadays that back up the idea of adoption. Intra-family adoptions are allowed when one or both parents of the child have died, resulting in a relation of either parent stepping in to be a stepmother or stepfather for the child, in order to re-create a family for the child. Many other reasons for intra-family adoptions exist: wanting to stop the spread of a hereditary disease, avoidance of contributing to overpopulation, complications with pregnancy and childbirth and the like are just a few of them. In fact, intra-family adoptions, believe it or not, happen way more often than adoptions between unrelated families, though the latter are the more publicized ones. Similar reasons, nevertheless, also account for unrelated adoptions.
Adoptions come in two forms: open and closed. In an open adoption, information between adoptive and biological parents is freely communicated, allowing the individual involved in the infant adoption access to information regarding his adoption, which includes unaltered birth certificates and adoption records. Any binding agreements made between the adoptive and biological parents of the child are also kept in the open, though with limited access to avoid abuse. Closed adoptions are a different story altogether. In a closed adoption, the records of the adoption and other similar materials are kept confidential, usually by a hired lawyer. This means that information linking the adopted child to his biological parents, people related biologically to the child, and other such information regarding the adoptee's biological identity are withheld and kept a secret.