Open Adoption with Your Child

Closed Adoption: What You Should Know

As a prospective birth mother, you may want your adoption to remain anonymous. Whether it’s because you need to move forward from your adoption or because you don’t wish to have a relationship with the adoptive family and child, a closed adoption could be the best choice for you.

  • What is a closed adoption?
  • How does a closed adoption work?
  • How can I keep my information private from the adoptive parents and child?

These are some of the important questions to ask when it comes to deciding whether to have a closed adoption, or consider an open adoption. As with any difficult decision, there are pros and cons. We’ll go over those as we move forward and talk about what a closed adoption means for you during the adoption and after the process is complete.

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A closed adoption is the least popular type of adoption relationship because most birth mothers wish to have at least some level of connection with their child after an adoption — at the very least, pictures and letters. With a closed adoption, identifiable information about the birth mother is usually kept anonymous from the adoptive parents and child. There are four key elements to a closed adoption.

1. Finding a Family Interested in Closed Adoption

Even if you choose not to meet or get to know the adoptive parents, you will have the option of selecting the family, if you’d like. When sitting down with your adoption professional, you will search for adoptive parents willing to have a closed adoption. You can review details of waiting families, like their general interests, living environment, whether or not they have children and other baseline information.

If you prefer not to choose the adoptive parents or know anything about them, you can let your adoption professional know, and they can select a family for you based on any guidelines or preferences you give them. It is always up to you to decide whether you want to choose the adoptive family for your baby.

2. Pre-Placement Contact

It is always up to you to decide whether you want to get to know the adoptive family and how much contact you want to have with them during your pregnancy. , In a closed adoption, you may choose to have some mediated contact with the adoptive family prior to placement, even if you plan not to have an ongoing relationship after the adoption. Talk to your adoption agency if you want to have some pre-placement contact with the adoptive parents but would like to keep your identifying information private.

You may also choose to have very little or no direct contact between you and the adoptive parents. In this situation, the adoption agency and adoption professional will remain very involved with all updates on the pregnancy, including any changes medically, the due date or important life updates relevant to the adoption. If the adoption is being done independently, a mediator or attorney will need to serve as the connection point between you and the adoptive family. Private email addresses or P.O. Box addresses can be used to exchange pertinent information.

3. The Hospital Stay

Like every part of the adoption process, it is up to you to decide what you want to happen at the hospital. In most closed adoptions, the birth mother chooses not to meet or interact with the adoptive parents at the hospital. If this is what you want, when the due date arrives and it’s time to head to the hospital, you and adoptive parents can remain separate from each other in order to keep your identifying information protected. Once you are able to legally consent to the adoption, the adoptive family will receive custody of the child.

However, you can also decide that you would like to meet the adoptive parents during the hospital stay. This may make it difficult to keep identifying information, like your last name, anonymous from the adoptive parents, but you may find that it brings you closure to see the adoptive parents with the baby. If you decide to meet the adoptive family at the hospital, talk to your adoption professional about your wishes. You can still choose not to receive updates from the adoptive parents after placement, even if you meet them at the hospital.

4. Post-Placement Contact

In a closed adoption, the importance of not having contact with the adoptive family remains post-placement. Any necessary information that needs to be passed along, such as the birth mother finding out about a medical condition, can be done through the adoption agency or private mediator.

Before choosing closed adoption, it’s important to understand that this type of arrangement is increasingly difficult to maintain long-term. With the advancement in today’s technology, keeping identifiable information private has become more difficult. Social media, open records and DNA testing can lead to the discovery of an identity against the wishes of the birth mother.


While closed adoptions have become far less common and aren’t typically recommended by adoption professionals, it’s good to weigh the pros and cons of this decision in order to gain a better understanding of what it means to you moving forward.


  • The ability for the birth mother to move forward with her life without feeling obligated to build a relationship with the adoptive family
  • The privacy that comes with a closed adoptions may makes it easier for a prospective birth mother to keep her pregnancy and adoption plan secret from certain people in her life and may allow her to avoid certain difficult conversations
  • Closure is an important step in the coping process, and the lack of direct connection to the adoptive family provides that for some birth parents


  • The removal of any connection to the adoptive family and child means the birth mother will miss out on the many life experiences and important moments during the growth and development of the child. This also has the potential to be stressful and heartbreaking for the birth mother if she starts asking herself, “Did I make the right decision? Is my child happy and healthy?” The disconnect may have the opposite intended effect for a birth mother choosing a closed adoption
  • A lack of access or knowledge of family medical history can be detrimental to the child should a medical issue arise. Without knowing the birth mother, it can make preventing and treating illnesses or medical emergencies difficult.
  • The child will eventually have questions about his or her birth and where they came from. Without access to the birth mother, there is the possibility of identity confusion and acceptance issues without the ability to gain clarity on the adoption.

Once you’ve had a chance to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a closed adoption, you can better decide what the right type of adoption is best for you. Closed adoption was once the standard; however, experts now agree that an open or semi-open adoption are far more beneficial to both the birth mother and the child. Your adoption specialist can answer any questions you may have about a closed adoption and what that means for you.

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