The decision to pursue adoption for your baby is never an easy one, but once it’s made, there are some facts you need to know. As the birth mother, you have a lot of power over what happens to your baby during the adoption process. One of the choices you’ll get to make is the type of adoption you want.
What you are imagining the adoption process to look like depends on your experience and prior knowledge. You might be picturing something completely different than reality. The stereotypical adoption of past generations is obsolete, and now, birth parents have a lot more say in the process.
As you make the choices throughout the process, the first thing you need to understand is that there are three different types of adoption. Once you know the details behind each one, you’ll be able to choose the path that works best for you and your baby.
What are the Different Types of Adoption?
Maybe you’ve already decided to go the adoption route or you’re seriously considering it. Either way, learning about the types of adoption arrangements is the next step. Every adoption relationship is unique, and you aren’t “forced” in any one direction.
Some birth parents choose to be completely hands-off and anonymous. Others want to participate to some degree in the post-adoption years. Because of this need, there are different types of adoption agreements that you can enter into as long as both the birth parents and adoptive parents agree.
The three main types include “closed,” semi-open,” and “open.” The terms for each describe how much contact the birth mother has with the adoptive parents and the baby. It’s a decision that the adoption agency doesn’t make for you.
Before you choose your preferred agreement, read over these explanations of each:
- Closed: In a closed adoption, both parties agree to have no contact throughout the entire process. The birth parents and the adoptive parents don’t meet or receive any information about each other.
Typically, the birth mother that chooses this agreement works directly with an adoption agency. The agency chooses the adoptive parents for your baby.
One of the most important things to realize with a closed adoption is that you don’t get to have any information about the people who adopt your baby. They don’t know anything about you, either. The birth records are sealed by the court and no one can ever learn your identity.
However, for the baby’s safety, your medical history is shared. That way, any identifying symptoms of genetic medical conditions can be identified.
- Semi-open: The stereotypical adoption is that of the closed one. This was the way the majority of adoptions were handled until recently. Now, it’s possible for the birth mother to have at least some choice over who adopts her baby in a semi-open agreement.
These types of adoptions occur when the birth mother wants to be able to choose at least some characteristics of the family that adopts her baby. The process usually includes giving the birth parents a display of multiple profiles of families looking to adopt. Names and identifying details are, of course, excluded.
The birth parents are able to choose the family that they feel will be most suited for their baby. However, there is no personal contact necessary during this process.
If the birth parents and adoptive parents agree, there can be communication. The level is to be determined by both parties. In some cases, it’s common for the adoptive parents to want to be part of the pregnancy. If the birth mother agrees, it’s a good opportunity for her to see who will be raising her newborn.
In other cases, however, both parties choose to remain anonymous. The birth parents select the family profile they prefer for their baby, and that’s it. Whether it’s an anonymous interaction or there is contact up through birth, once the baby is placed with the adoptive family, communication ends.
- Open: In the past few decades, more studies have been done on babies who have been adopted. These help us to understand the importance some kids place on knowing their heritage. This has resulted in the new legal requirement of sharing the birth parents’ medical histories when possible. The knowledge alleviates some of these concerns.
If both parties are open to having contact with each other for the best interests of the baby, an open adoption can occur. These are less common, but when they work well, they can be beneficial to everyone.
In an open adoption, the contact information of both the birth mother and the potential adoptive parents is given to each other. They can contact the other party before the adoption is made final or after the adoption is complete.
An open adoption can occur after the semi-open profiles are reviewed by the birth parents. If there is a question of which adoptive parents are best and it comes down to a choice between a handful of them, a meeting can be set up.
Upon the final decision to place the baby with particular adoptive parents, both parties can agree to share their contact information. If they’re in agreement, they can keep in contact after the adoption is finalized. Everyone chooses to get along for the sake of the child.
Sometimes, in an open adoption, the adoptive parents are invited to doctor’s appointments and the delivery. This is not required, but it does occur in a lot of open adoption agreements.
Before the adoption is finalized, both parties can agree on a level of contact and communication. The birth mother does not have to be in regular contact with the child. This can be done by the adoptive parents through emails, letters, and pictures. But occasionally, there is in-person contact, however, some parties wait until the child is older and able to understand.
In very open cases, the birth mother is invited to participate in all the milestones of the child’s life, as though she were part of the adoptive family, too. These decisions are all based on factors like the comfort level of the birth mother and adoptive parents. What they all agree is best for the child and the ability for everyone to interact well over time are also considered.
Making the Move to an Adoption Agency
Now that you know more about the types of adoption agreements possible, you’re on the right path. You can consider the level of contact you can choose to have with your child after birth. As you do, the next step is picking an adoption agency to work with.
It’s important that you pick the right agency for you, since they will have a huge role in the entire part of the process. You’re dealing with a human and human rights, so it can get complicated.
The adoption agency effectively acts on your behalf to handle all the complicated legalities and steps in the process. Because it’s such a sensitive responsibility, you have to make sure you trust the agency, and the person/people working with you, entirely.
When you work with a reputable agency, it benefits you and your baby. You get the comfort of knowing that you’re dealing with experts who know how to handle this complex legal process.
And since the agency is well-known, with a high reputation, more prospective parents will go there to try to be matched with a baby. This means you’ll have more choices if you choose open or semi-open adoptions.
As with the three types of adoptions, there are also three basic types of adoption agencies:
- Local: A local adoption agency is licensed to facilitate adoption services in a designated area. Most often, the license extends to the state and can’t cross over state lines. These are usually the go-to agencies for parents who want a domestic adoption and don’t mind waiting for the process to occur.
- National: In national adoption agencies, the organization is licensed across the state borders. They can work throughout multiple states. Some agencies have licenses that allow them to facilitate adoptions anywhere in the country. Obviously, this opens the prospective parent up to many more possible birth parents. Because of this, the wait for a child may be shorter when you work with a national adoption agency.
- International: An international adoption agency is licensed to help you adopt a baby from another country. These types of adoptions are less common anymore because of the enactment of stricter rules in other countries. Russia, for example, has forbidden adoptions to the United States since around 2014.
Babies are typically the preferred type of adopted child. But there are hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system every day. The adoption agency you choose to work with can talk to you about the benefits and drawbacks of adopting within different age groups.
Regardless of the type of adoption agreement you want to have with the family that takes in your baby, the agency you choose is crucial. As you look into the choices that you have of which organization to work with, make sure you feel comfortable with them.
This is a crucial time in your life, and in your baby’s. You may have as little or as much say in the process as you want, but it all starts here as you’re becoming informed.