Open or Closed Adoption: What’s the Difference? 1

Important Adoption Terms You Need to Know

Spend just a small amount of time in an adoption agency and you’ll likely hear the terms “open adoption” and “closed adoption”. Wondering what the difference is?

In an open adoption, everything’s on the table. The birth parents know you and you know them. Each adoption is different and, of course, the extent of “openness” depends upon what the parties are comfortable with but it’s not uncommon for birth parents and adoptive parents to communicate regularly through emails, letters and phone calls.

In addition, open adoption also presents the possibility for the birth parents to remain in their child’s life even though they are no longer the legal parents after the adoption has become final.

This allows the child to know his or her biological parents and allows the birth parents to watch their child grow up, even if it’s from a distance.

A closed adoption, on the other hand, is just the opposite. The birth parents don’t know the adoptive parents and the adoptive parents never get to know the birth parents. Their identities are not revealed although some physical characteristics and medical history may be provided regarding one or both parties.

A closed adoption does not allow for contact between the birth parents and the child after the adoption has become final. The adoption records are sealed and the parties’ identities are kept private.

There is also a third variation known as “semi-open adoption”. In this type of adoption, the parties experience limited communications through a third party, usually the adoption agency itself or even an attorney. Communications are often in the form of letters and non-identifying emails so that all the parties (including the child) have some communication but still retain a sense of privacy regarding the adoption. The identities of the parties are still not revealed and the specifics of the adoption remain private.

You may also enjoy this book on the overall adoption process . .

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Discussion

  • Diann

    I had a closed adoption about 22 years ago and I have members of my family who are threatening to find this child even though I’ve told them repeatedly not to do that and I’ve also told them that the adoption was closed and there is no way they will find this child. Am I right about this? I gave up this child so she would have a better life than I did and have better parents than I had and I don’t want some crazy family members bothering this person just so they can satisfy their own selfish needs.