Types of Adoption: Open, Semi-Open & Closed
When describing types of adoption, one usually thinks of adoptions as being open, semi-open, or closed, we are speaking of the relationship between the birth and the adoptive family including the child. In making adoption agreements, it is important for the parties to state their expectations clearly. All decisions should be made with the child’s best interests at the heart of the discussion.
These types of adoptions describe the relationship between the birth and the adoptive family including the child. In making adoption agreements, it is important for the parties to state their expectations clearly. All decisions should be made with the child’s best interests at the heart of the discussion.
Open adoption is increasingly common. The relationship continuum below depicts the wide range of openness levels available between adoptive families and birth families. Any open adoption relationship may move between levels through the life of the relationship becoming more or less open over time.
The agency shares only non-identifying information about the birth parents to the adoptive parent(s) and about the adoptive parent(s) to the birth parents. There is no direct contact.
Birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) share non-identifying background information directly with each other prior to the birth of the child via phone, e-mail or at meetings at an agency or at a neutral setting. Semi-open may also include the sharing of photos, letters, and updates on the child’s progress through the agency after placement. The birth parent(s) may respond with letters including new medical or social history. Direct contact may or may not occur and is contingent upon the mutual agreement of the birth parents and adoptive parents.
Birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) talk directly to one another and identifying information is shared prior to placement. After placement, contact may include phone calls, emails, or letters. Visits may be arranged directly as mutually agreed upon by both parties. No two open adoptions are the same.
Myth: Children of open adoption are confused about having two mothers and two fathers.
Fact: Children in open adoptions are not confused by contact with their birth parents. Even at an early age, children can understand the different roles of their adoptive families and birth families: birth parents gave them life and adoptive parents care for and nurture them.
Myth: Adoptive parents are “adopting” the birth mother along with the child.
Fact: The adoption is of the child only, however, adoptive parents usually become attached to the birth mother prior to the birth of the child and welcome an adult relationship with the birth parents. In fact, sometimes the birth mother chooses to have less contact with the adoptive family.
Myth: Birth parents will be intrusive to the adoptive family.
Fact: Most adoptive parents, across all levels of openness, are happy with their relationships with the birth parents. If they are concerned about how “open” a relationship should be, it is best to start with limited contact and over time build upon the relationship and add contact as a level of trust is developed. Most adoptive parents feel they have the respect of the birth parents and can manage the level of involvement with the birth parents based on the best interest of the child.