If you are facing an unplanned pregnancy, you are likely experiencing a whirlwind of emotions. You may even feel overwhelmed by the many big decisions ahead of you, including whether adoption is the best path for you and your unborn child. If you are considering making the loving choice to place your baby for adoption, you may be deciding which type of adoption plan is right for you. Before choosing whether or not to make an adoption plan, you should first consider all of the adoption plans available.
There are three basic types of adoption plans available to expectant/birth mothers:
- Open adoption
- Closed adoption
- Semi-open adoption
What are the differences between open, semi-open, and closed adoption? Here, Adoptions With Love will detail each adoption plan and all that it entails. Our goal is to help you understand each of your options in detail, so that you can make the best possible decision for you and your baby.
Open adoption is the most common type of adoption plan chosen by expectant/birth parents today. 55 percent of private, infant adoptions today are fully open, involving direct contact between a birth and adoptive family. 95 percent of domestic U.S. adoption agencies offer this as an option, as it typically brings the most positive outcomes for families involved.
While there is no single, universal definition of open adoption, it generally means that there is some set relationship between a birth mother and an adoptive family. For some birth parents, open adoption means brief contact or meetings with the adoptive parents before their baby’s birth. For others, open adoption involves contact long-after the baby is born, and evolves as the child grows older. Open, post-adoption contact can vary, depending on each family and situation. It can involve letters and pictures, email updates, phone conversations, texting, video chatting, or even in-person visits. In a fully open adoption, the birth mother and the adoptive family have identifying information about one another, including names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
As an open adoption agency, every prospective adoptive family at Adoptions With Love agrees to at least a semi-open adoption (keep reading for an explanation of semi-open adoption). However, most families today are open to some direct, ongoing communication with the birth parents over the years.
Open adoption is a positive choice for many birth mothers who wish to stay involved or up to date about their child’s life over the years. They can take comfort in knowing that – when making their adoption plan – they will not have to say “goodbye” after birth. They will maintain a connection with the adoptive family and, perhaps someday, meet and get to know their child. Two out of three birth mothers in open adoption arrangements have peace of mind about their choice, and are very certain they would make the same decision over again.
Open adoption also has many benefits for the child. These children can get to know where they came from, what their birth parents look like, and why they made this choice. They have access to answers from their birth parents, and have less “missing pieces” as they grow.
Birth mothers may be happy to learn that the form of communication with adoptive families and child might evolve over the years. At Adoptions With Love, we write contracts that are legal and binding, but that may also be renegotiated over the years. This is to help accommodate the growing child and relationship between adoptive families and birth mothers. Adoptions With Love is always available and ready to help reassess these agreements. Over the years, we are committed to helping birth and adoptive families maintain positive and mutually-respectful open adoption relationships.
A closed adoption plan means that there is no contact between birth families and adoptive families. Closed adoptions are also anonymous, meaning little to no identifying information is shared between families, even before the birth takes place. In a closed adoption, only non-identifying information – such as the birth parents’ ages, medical histories, and reasons for adoption – is shared before the placement is finalized.
While only about five percent of adoptions today are completely closed, closed adoption is always an option at Adoptions With Love. We understand that what may work for some birth mothers, may not work for others. You may desire to keep your information private. Maybe you feel it is too difficult to choose a family for your baby, or receive updates on your baby’s life. This is okay. We understand that these connections may feel overwhelming at this time. Should you decide to go with a closed adoption, you can take comfort in knowing that the plan will be placed in the hands of an experienced, trustworthy, and licensed adoption professional.
Just as adjustments can be made in open adoptions, birth parents who have chosen a closed adoption may also re-evaluate this choice down the road. Right now, you may feel you do not want to receive letters or pictures from your child’s adoptive family. Over time, however, you may want to check in to see how your child has grown. Adoptions With Love’s letter and picture program will keep these updates of your child on file, so that you can access them if and when you are ready.
Just like it sounds, a semi-open adoption falls somewhere in between an open and closed adoption plan. These plans involve some, but less, communication between the birth and adoptive families. This communication can vary. Most semi-open adoptions will involve the exchange of letters and pictures, mediated by an adoption agency, without any direct or in-person contact. The children involved do not normally have any direct contact with their birth parents, but have access to answers if and when they need them. Semi-open adoptions usually keep identifying information confidential, as well, and respect everyone’s privacy. Today, 40 percent of infant adoptions in the U.S. are semi-open.
Semi-open adoption plans are completely customizable. As an expectant/birth mother, you can tell your agency how much – or how little – contact you wish to have with your child’s adoptive family. You can also choose the family, if you wish. At Adoptions With Love, we will take the time to get to know you and your needs, as well as your hopes for your baby, to help you design the perfect adoption plan. If you think you would like to choose, meet, or stay in contact with your child’s adoptive family, we can walk you through your open adoption and semi-open adoption options. Then you decide which level of openness is right for you.
Open, closed, semi-open adoption – there are many options for expectant/birth mothers. There is no right or wrong path, and no one-size-fits-all plan. At Adoptions With Love, you will have the power to define your adoption plan, whether open or closed, and adjust it throughout the years. Should you decide to make an open adoption plan with us, rest assured that all the waiting families at Adoptions With Love are open to some “openness” with the birth family. Whatever path you decide to take, the caring staff at Adoptions With Love will support you and guide you through this journey.
To learn more about making an adoption plan, you may call Adoptions With Love at 1-800-722-7731 or text us confidentially at1-617-777-0072. We are available 24/7 to answer your call. If you would like more information about adoptions, check out our new, free guide – “Adoption FAQ for Birth Mothers.”