Open vs Closed Adoptions

M Open AdoptionsWhen a birthmother chooses adoption for her unborn baby, she is faced with two different adoption options: private adoption, otherwise known as closed adoption or open adoption. Heart to Heart strives to help birthmothers with unplanned pregnancies decide which type of adoption best suits individual desires and needs. Adoption is never an easy decision. Some women feel pressured into adopting, feeling as though their lives are being turned upside down. Some women feel ashamed for even considering adoption. However, adoption should not be viewed in this manner. Adoption is a gift of life to a prospective family that wants their own children to raise and care for.
There are two main types of adoptions:
  • Open Adoptions – An open adoption is defined as communication directly between the birthmother and adoptive parents prior to the child being born. This communication typically remains active after the child is placed with the adoptive family. Communication may include phone calls or in-person visits. Some adoptions are extremely open, with birthparents and adoptive parents agreeing to periodic visits with the child. These types of adoptions also include exchanging letters and pictures.
  • Closed Adoptions – A closed adoption is one where the birthmother and prospective adoptive family do not meet. There is no contact prior to the baby being born, nor after the placement is finalized. This type of adoption was commonplace for several generations; however, the early 1980’s ushered in new adoption techniques and processes, which includes the aforementioned open adoptions. Some adoptive families prefer closed adoptions, having an innate fear that if the birthmother is in contact with them, she may decide to request the child be returned to her care. This fear is largely perpetuated by Hollywood dramas and media reports, which are not entirely accurate. Adoption laws are not vague, but extremely clear that once a child is adopted, he/she belongs to the family and is their legal child.
  • Semi-Open Adoptions – Falling somewhere in between open and closed adoptions is the semi-open adoption. This typically includes the birthmother and adoptive family exchanging contact information, but it is limited to a first name basis. Telephone numbers, addresses and email addresses are not exchanged and while the parties may agree to speak after the adoption process has been finalized, a certain degree of professional confidentiality is maintained. This typically is indicative of a third party, meaning that the adoptive parents and birthmother are not directly in contact with one another, handling any correspondence.
Heart to Heart helps guide and counsel birthmothers and prospective adoptive parents about the type of adoption that best meets their needs. Knowing up front what type of adoption is acceptable to both parties will help facilitate the matching process, ensuring that both the birthmother and prospective adoptive parents are in agreement concerning the type of adoption.

Melanie D. Davis is a transracial adoption mental health therapist. She supports many children placed for adoption in transracial homes. She offer therapy for both parents and children in transracial homes to help them create

Melanie is an adoptee raised in a transracial home in Utah.