What You Need to Know About Open and Closed Adoptions

When birthparents decide to place a child up for adoption, they will often decide between an open or closed adoption. After they decide, an adoption agency will typically provide the birthparents with biographies of potential adoptive parents.

In the past, most birthparents in the United States have opted for closed adoptions. However, more birthparents in this country nowadays are opting for open adoptions. Despite these national trends, you will need to decide what type of adoption is best for you.

Here are some things to consider as you decide between an open or closed adoption. Open Adoptions

An open adoption is an adoption that allows the adoptive parents to stay in touch with the birthparents.

Most open adoptions allow the adoptive parents to access the following information about the birthparents:

  • First and last name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Personal email


In open adoptions, the adoptive parents may use this information to contact the birthparents before or after the adoption takes place.

Some birthmothers become friends with the adoptive parents during the pregnancy. In these situations, birthmothers often carry on relationships with adoptive parents through regular contact. Other birthparents choose to only contact the child and parents for events like birthdays or holidays.

While these are some common scenarios of open adoptions, they are not the only options for open adoptions. Every adoption is unique. As a birthparent, you can decide what level of contact you want with the adoptive parents and your child.

Birthparents may choose an open adoption so that adoptive parents are able to fully answer any questions the child may have about his or her birthparents. Birthparents may also choose an open adoption so they can have the option to see the child in the future.

Often, open adoptions can help a child better come to terms with his or her adoption because of the available information.

Some birthparents and adoptive parents choose a semi-open adoption. Often, this adoption type involves a very limited number of visits between the birthparents and the child. Adoptive parents and birthparents may also allow annual letters or exchanged pictures. Both adoptive and birthparents who choose a semi-open adoption should always specify what terms the adoption involves to avoid issues in the future.

Closed Adoptions

In certain cases, a closed adoption may be a more appropriate option. Closed adoptions almost entirely restrict contact between birthparents and the adoptive parents of a child.

When birthparents choose a closed adoption, the files related to the adoption are often physically sealed. Even if the birthparents and adoptive parents meet each other during the adoption process, the parties will not stay in touch afterwards. In closed adoptions, the adopted child typically won’t have any knowledge about his or her parents, especially while the child is a minor.

Sometimes adoptive parents can receive medical records of the birthparents in closed adoptions. However, they rarely receive any further information.

Keep in mind that some birthparents may choose to change the adoption type over time. A birthparent may decide to limit contact after choosing an open adoption. Other birthparents may even allow an open adoption after formerly choosing a closed adoption.

States usually have different rules and processes about opening a closed adoption. In fact, most states require a court order to change an adoption. If you decide to change the type of adoption you want, always consult the other party first. Clear communication is important to create a cooperative, successful adoption.

Consult an adoption agency as you consider the best option for your circumstances. The professionals at your agency can answer any questions and help you through the adoption process.

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