Open vs Closed Adoption

Closed Relationships - In a closed or confidential adoption, birth parents and adoptive families do not share contact with one another. They may never even meet.

Semi-open Relationships - In a semi-open adoption, very little information is exchanged. You may know each others names, have met at placement and share letters and pictures on a schedule but may not meet face-to-face after placement or have contact through phone/social media. Often any correspondence is mediated and sent through the agency.

Open Relationships - Birth families and adoptive families share photos and letters and have an on-going relationship that can include face-to-face visits, phone calls, texts, and/or contact on social media. Even in open relationships, the specifics can vary greatly.

Advantages for Birthparents

  • The option to be able to choose adoptive parents for your baby, meet them, and build an ongoing relationship
  • Creating an adoption plan for your child
  • Maintaining a relationship with your child as he or she gets older
  • The ability to directly answer questions your child may have regarding their history, adoption, etc.
  • Feeling less uncertainty about the future for their child knowing that he or she is loved and cared for, and can see their interaction as a family
  • Birth mothers in open adoptions who are more satisfied with their post-placement communication agreement had less unresolved grief 12-20 years after the placements than those involved in closed adoptions

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you are considering if open adoption is right for you:

  • How often am I willing to share updates with the child’s birth family?
  • In what ways am I willing to share updates? (Telephone, Text, Pictures)
  • Am I willing to keep my promises of communication/updates with the birth family?
  • Do I want my child to have a relationship with their birth family?
  • Do I want my child to know what their birth parents look like?
  • Am I willing to talk to my child about, and help them make meaning of, contact with their birth family?
  • How might sharing updates or having visits affect me and my child?
  • Do I want my child to have ready access to their biological family? Medical information? Biological siblings?
  • Do I want my child to be able to ask their birth parents questions about why they chose adoption?
  • What do I do if the relationship gets difficult? Am I willing to put the effort into the relationship even if it does get difficult?
  • How will I react if my child wants more or less contact as they get older?
  • Do I feel like I need my adoption professional to mediate this new relationship?