The Three Types of Adoption

by | Mar 10, 2024 | Birth Parent Blog

Pregnant woman relaxes in nature on a beautiful sunny day while thinking about the types of adoptionYou probably have many questions if you are pregnant or considering placing your child for adoption. One question may be, “What does adoption look like today and in the future?” Another common question is, “What are my choices?”
Adoption today puts you in the driver’s seat. You get to decide who adopts your baby and how often you want to keep in contact after the adoption. The 3 types of adoption are open adoption, semi-open adoption, and closed adoption.
Each birth mother’s adoption plan is different: while one might want to choose the adoptive family for her baby, another may want Lifetime to choose. Also, one expectant mother may want in-person visits with the family and her child, but another wants no contact after she places. Here, we break down the 3 types of adoption:

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  • Open Adoption

    The most common type of adoption today is open adoption. With open adoption, you will choose who will adopt your child from a nationwide selection of loving, pre-screened adoptive couples. You can pick a family that lives near you or in another state. Whether your child grows up on a farm or in a city is up to you. You may be interested in your child being raised in a specific faith or by a couple of a certain race. Your Adoption Coordinator at Lifetime will help you find just the right family.

    Life After an Open Adoption

    Part of choosing a family will be to find one who is open to the type and amount of contact you would like after the adoption is final. For example, you may want photos and updates on your child, Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime calls a couple of times a year or even visits occasionally. Before you select parents for your baby, you can speak with several of them and ask them questions. Modern, open adoption allows you to create the right adoption plan for you and your child.
    Of the 3 types of adoption, open adoption is the preferred method of adoption by adoption professionals and counselors due to the positive impact it has on all involved in the adoption journey. It is beneficial to children because they will always know where they came from and understand that their birth parents placed them for adoption out of love. Open adoption also allows adoptees to know their medical history.
    Studies have shown that adoptees with relationships with their birth parents are more psychologically well-adjusted than those in closed adoptions. Birth mothers tend to take comfort in seeing their children thrive in their adoptive home, and adoptive parents have the answers their children need during each level of their growth. Your child will come to know that you loved him enough to want the very best for him.


  • Semi-Open Adoption

    If you prefer a little more separation, you can choose a semi-open adoption. You can still select your baby’s adoptive parents in these types of adoptions, but some information such as last names and locations are kept private. You can still receive updates and photos but often through your adoption professional, who will receive them and send them along.


  • Closed Adoption

    The third type of adoption is a closed adoption. The adoption professional will choose a family for you. They will keep any identifying information about you private. Also, you will not receive any information about the adoptive family. In a closed adoption, you will not have any further contacts or updates.
    In the past, closed adoption was the only type of adoption, and adoptions happened in secret. As a result, birth parents had no communication with the adoptive family, and adopted children grew up knowing little to nothing about their birth history.

    Closed Adoption: Privacy And Closure

    A closed adoption plan offers privacy and a sense of closure as you move on to the next stage of your life. This option could be in your child’s best interest if you know that your circumstances are unstable or unsafe.
    Before you commit to a closed adoption plan, consider whether or not your circumstances are permanent. Closed adoption plans are irreversible, so you will not be able to change your mind about contacting your child if your situation improves.

Examples of the 3 Types of Adoption Plans

When you’re thinking about adoption for your child, it can help to hear from other women who have been in your shoes. Here are three example adoption plans; your plan might end up looking like one of these woman’s, or it may be totally different.

This birth mother chose semi-open adoption:

“I found out I was pregnant when I was in my junior year of college. Having a baby then just wasn’t going to work: I’d planned on going on to medical school! My baby’s dad offered to pay for an abortion, but I ended up putting my baby up for adoption. I was pretty open with what I wanted in the adoptive parents for my son. I just wanted a two-parent family who loved each other.
Now, I get updates on my son through the Facebook posts his adoptive parents make and also by Skyping with them. Since they live on the West coast and I live on the East coast, visits just aren’t practical for me right now, and I’m fine with that. When I saw on Sykpe how happy my son was with them and how loving they are with him, I knew that I’d made the right decision!”

-Hailey, 24

And this woman chose a closed adoption:

“When I learned I was pregnant again, I was already struggling to parent the two kids I already had. Their fathers weren’t in the picture at all…they were both deadbeats and didn’t help me. So, I was freaking out over what I’d do! A friend told me about adoption, so I decided to see what it was all about. I called Lifetime and talked to Diane…it was such a relief to have the option of adoption! It turns out I ended up talking to her a lot during my pregnancy. There was a level of trust there, so I told her I’d like for Lifetime to choose an adoptive couple for my baby.
Once I was firm in my decision to adopt out my baby daughter, I knew it’d be more difficult for me if I saw her. So, I made sure to include in my birth plan that I didn’t want to see my baby or hold her after delivery…and I made plenty of copies of my plan so everyone at the hospital would know. Today, I don’t have any contact with the adoptive couple who adopted her, but I trust that she’s doing well now because I have confidence that Diane picked a great couple.”

-Kylee, 31

A third birth mother chose open adoption:

“I was a sophomore in high school when my boyfriend and I found out I was pregnant! We both had big plans for our futures, and having a baby wasn’t in them. We’re both pro-life, so we knew early on we’d do adoption.
I was really picky in my search for the right adoptive family for my baby boy. They had to be devout Catholics, live near me, had no kids, and I wanted a stay-at-home mom. Oh, and I also wanted them to be physically fit and enjoy the outdoors like my boyfriend and me! My Adoption Coordinator, Veronica, sent me 3 separate sets of adoptive family profiles for me to review.
When my boyfriend and I finally found the right adoptive parents for our son, I was just a few weeks away from my due date. I wanted the adoptive mom to be at the hospital when I delivered, and I also wanted to have a few days to love on my son and say goodbye to him.
Today, I’m a freshman in college, and I’m still with my boyfriend. We go to the same school; he’s majoring in business, and I’m majoring in either English or psychology-I haven’t decided. We have visits with our son’s adoptive family and our son once or twice a year. These visits really help me to know I made the right choice. I know they’re his parents and I’d never think of trying to take him back, but the visits are great. We meet up at a park in their town or go out to eat.”

-Hannah, 18

Which of the 3 Types of Adoption is Right for Me?

While there are many benefits to an open adoption plan, only you can decide what is right for your future. Lean on your Adoption Coordinator as you decide what type of adoption plan would be best for you.
Be honest about your desires and expectations for the future. Lifetime Adoption will provide you with access to counselors, attorneys, and birth mother mentors so you can plan the brightest possible future for you and your baby.
If you have questions about adoption and what type of adoption you should choose, please give Lifetime Adoption a call or text at 1-800-923-6784. As you think about adoption, requesting our FREE Adoption Planning Kit is a good first step.

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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on August 9, 2013, and has since been updated. 

Heather Featherston

Written by Heather Featherston

As Vice President of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.

Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.

As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.

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