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Woman in her living room, wondering what is the difference between open and closed adoption?Choosing adoption puts your baby on a path for a hopeful future. One of the first decisions you will make is what role you see yourself playing in that future. As you explore adoption, you’ve probably heard of the terms “open adoption” and closed adoption.” So what is the difference between open and closed adoption? We’ll explain the differences between the two, and the potential benefits and drawbacks to each type of adoption.
 
In the past, adoptions were carried out in secret. Birth parents had no communication with the adoptive family, and adopted children grew up knowing little to nothing about their birth history. This is no longer what adoption looks like.
 
Today, the birth parents are in control of the adoption process. You can choose if a closed, semi-open, or open adoption plan works best for you and your baby. Most domestic adoptions in the United States are open adoptions, but there are circumstances where another option may be in the best interest of your child. As you learn about these three types of adoption plans, remember to keep an open mind, and realize that your wishes could change in the future.
 

What Is a Closed Adoption Plan?

  • There is no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive family and child after the adoption occurs.
  • The adoption agency will choose the adoptive family, not the birth parents.
  • Closed adoption plans are rare for domestic adoptions, but still the norm for international adoptions.

Could a Closed Adoption Plan Be Right for You?

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 the best interest of your child 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 not reversible, so you will not be able to change your mind about contacting your child if your situation improves in the future.
 

What Is a Semi-open Adoption Plan?

  • The birth parents and the adoptive family share some identifying information such as names and locations.
  • The birth parents share updated medical information and history with the adoptive family.
  • There is limited contact between the birth parents and the adoptive family. Usually, the adoptive family sends pictures and updates to the birth parents. Communication does not usually include phone calls, visits, or video chatting.
  • The birth parents and the adoptive family may rely more on the adoption professional to help manage communication.

Could a Semi-open Adoption Plan Be Right for You?

With a semi-open adoption plan, you won’t have to wonder if your child is safe and cared for. The updates you receive from the adoptive family will help you feel confident in your decision to choose adoption.
 
You might not be sure how much contact you want to have with your child in the beginning, but emotions and desires can change over time. As your child grows, she may have more questions and wish to reach out to you. In the future, this may be something you desire, as well. With a semi-open adoption plan, you leave the door open to negotiate the type and amount of contact you have with the adoptive family.
 
Semi-open adoption plans are also beneficial if you live a great distance from the adoptive family, or if regular communication is not feasible.
 
Pregnant woman looks at her phone in the kitchen

What Is an Open Adoption Plan?

  • The birth parents and the adoptive family share identifying information and decide on the amount of contact to maintain after the adoption takes place.
  • The birth parents share updated medical information and history with the adoptive family.
  • The birth parents are in control of the adoption plan and choose the adoptive parents for their baby.
  • Most modern domestic adoptions are open.

Could an Open Adoption Plan Be Right for You?

An open adoption plan has significant benefits for your child, the adoptive family, and for you.
 
Your child will grow up knowing her adoption story. She will learn that you did not “give her away.” Rather, you made this loving choice to give her a more hopeful future. Depending on your open adoption plan’s specifics, your child may even have the chance to learn about her birth history directly from you.
 
With access to your current medical history, the adoptive parents can make more informed medical decisions involving your child. They will also be better equipped to support their adopted child’s developing identity because they have a connection with you.
 
You will receive emotional support throughout the entire adoption process. You won’t experience the trauma of never seeing your baby again or wondering if your baby is safe. You are in control of your relationship with the adoptive family.
 

Making a Choice That’s Right for You

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 provides you with access to counselors, attorneys, and birth mother mentors so you can plan the brightest possible future for you and your baby.
 

Lifetime Adoption provides compassion, understanding and a non-judgmental experience to those exploring their options in order to provide a bright future for their children.
 
Call or text Lifetime Adoption at 1-800-923-6784, anytime. You can also contact us here for free adoption information.

Mardie Caldwell Certified Open Adoption Practitioner
Written by Mardie Caldwell Certified Open Adoption Practitioner

Mardie Caldwell, C.O.A.P., is nationally recognized as an expert on open adoption. A Certified Open Adoption Practitioner (C.O.A.P.), Caldwell is the founder of Lifetime Adoption Center, established in 1986. She has assisted in over 2,000 successful adoptions and was one of the first adoption professionals on the Internet.

Caldwell’s life work is dedicated to educating and helping birth parents find the right adoptive parents for their child. She spreads the word about modern adoption through speaking appearances, webinars, online resources, and as a podcast show host.

She has written several award-winning books, including So I Was Thinking About Adoption, the first book of its kind. There are many reasons women choose adoption, and this short book is a comprehensive resource to make the best plan for you and your baby. Caldwell wrote So I Was Thinking About Adoption as a handy guide to the details of the adoption process.

Caldwell has made over 150 media appearances, including ABC News, CBS News, Larry King Live, CNN Headline News, NBC’s The Today Show, CNN’s The Campbell Brown Show, NBC News, KGO Newstalk Radio, CNN’s Black in America II, MSNBC, Fox, PBS, BBC, and Dr. Laura.

Read More About Mardie Caldwell