Understanding the Differences between Open and Closed Adoption

When both birth and adoptive parents come to our agency the most common question we receive is, “What’s the difference between open and closed adoption?” And it’s an important question to fully understand the answer, as it determines the relationship between both parties, and influences the child for a lifetime.

Open adoption, however, is more on a spectrum with degrees of openness, which we’ll dive into for domestic adoption.

What is Open Adoption?

The blanket meaning of open adoption is any adoption relationship between the adoptive family and birth parents in which identifiable information (first and last names, address, phone number, email, and more) as well as contact (may include contact before and after adoption in the form of phone calls, emails, and visits) are shared between both parties.

Open adoptions can range from personal visits between the adoptive family and birth parents, the birth mother is able to have a personal relationship with the child to only periodic calls phone calls on holidays or birthdays.

No two open adoptions, let alone two adoptions, look the same. Take comfort in knowing that the degree of openness is predetermined during the crafting of the adoption plan. This is done so both parties are prepared, understand boundaries, and can help set expectations for the adopted child.

Typical Open Adoption Requirements:

  • Share last names
  • Share direct communication with your child’s birth parents
  • Willing to have a post-placement visit within child’s first 5 years

What is Closed Adoption?

Closed adoption means there is no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive parents and child after the adoption. The adoptive family, however, still receives medicals records in closed adoptions, but little else. More than ever, closed adoptions are becoming less common amongst birth mothers due to the negative effects seen by adoptive families, birth mothers, adopted children, and agencies.

At Adoption Alliance we empower birth mothers/parents to make decisions during the adoption process. They get to decide how much contact they want to have with the adoptive family and child. From there we take over and find the perfect family to match the birth parents’ wants and needs for their child’s future.

What About a Semi-Open Adoption?

For birth mothers that are looking for something between open and close adoptions then semi-open may be the best option.

So what is a semi-open adoption? Basically it’s similar to an open adoption, but there is less direct contact shared between the adoptive family and the birth parents. Identifying information is protected and an adoption professional is a mediator between both parties leading up to and after placement is complete.

Similar to open adoptions, what semi-adoption plan is decided upon will vary across families and is dependent on the birth parents involved.

Are you a prospective parent? Then be prepared to be flexible with communication, sensitive to the comfort levels of the birth parents, and be willing to build a relationship with them over time.

Learn More About Open vs. Closed Adoption

If you’re looking for more information on the differences between open and closed adoptions please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our adoption specialists at Adoption Alliance. We’re available 24/7 at 1-800-626-4324.

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