Open Adoption with Your Child

Open vs. Closed Adoption [What’s Right for You?]

Knowing how much contact to have with the adoptive family and child during and after an adoption is difficult. The differences between open and closed adoption are vast and can help you determine what type of relationship you want with your child.

  • Do you want to build a relationship with your child post-adoption?
  • Is a connection between you and the adoptive parents important to you?
  • Is it more difficult for you to move forward from the adoption by continuing to have contact with the adoptive parents?
  • Would you prefer to keep your adoption anonymous?

The following information will go over the main differences between open and closed adoption and how that could affect you and your child. How do you define “open” and “closed” adoption? We’ll outline what open vs. closed adoption means and give you pros and cons for each.

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When it comes to the differences between open and closed adoption, we’re talking about the difference between the adoptive family and child knowing the birth mother, and not having any identifiable information with the adoption remaining completely anonymous. The middle ground between the two would be a semi-open adoption, which allows for mediated contact between the two sides, which usually includes regular mail, emails and potentially phone calls.

Ultimately, the choice between an open or closed adoption comes down to whether or not you wish to build a relationship with the adoptive family and child. First, let’s break down the benefits of an open adoption.

Pros of an Open Adoption

An open adoption creates an environment of just that, openness. When you choose your adoptive family, the relationship starts, and initial communication can include:

  • Phone calls
  • Emails
  • Video chats
  • Texting
  • In-person meetings

Getting to know the adoptive family forges the bond you will both share after your baby is born. Keeping an open relationship by sharing photos, life experiences and milestones is a way to keep you connected to your child. An open adoption also gives the child a chance to understand where he or she came from and who their biological parents are, which can help avoid potential identity issues. Building a relationship with the adoptive parents can help you develop a sense of trust that they are loving and caring for your child, as well as allow for the two of you to share special moments in the child’s life. Medically, the ability to know your family’s health history is beneficial to the child in preventing or treating any potential medical issues.

Cons of an Open Adoption

A birth mother may find that a connection to the adoptive family and child makes the adoption more difficult to move forward from. Seeing pictures or videos of your child could potentially trigger emotions you were trying to avoid by choosing a closed adoption.

Pros of a Closed Adoption

While closed adoptions are much less common than they once were, some prospective birth mothers feel as though keeping anonymity and refraining from identifying themselves to the adoptive family and child allows for the proper level of closure. There are also some persistent myths that open adoption will “confuse” their child and that this type of relationship equates to “coparenting.” Most of these fears and the anxiety associated with them are alleviated once the prospective birth mother learns more about the adoption process.

Cons of a Closed Adoption

The disadvantages of a closed adoption far outweigh the benefits. It may seem easier to have complete separation from the child and adoptive parents, but in reality, it can have adverse effects. Some of the potential cons of a closed adoption include:

  • Grief – Not having updated information about the health and wellbeing of your child can intensify the natural grieving process following the completion of the adoption
  • Denial – Without any connection to the child or adoptive family, it can become increasingly difficult to come to terms with the reality that the adoption took place
  • Guilt – Without the opportunity to eventually explain to the child why he or she was placed for adoption, a birth mother can experience extreme levels of guilt
  • Concern for the child– A birth mother might worry that her child feels like he or she was abandoned or unloved because they were placed for adoption, which can be difficult to cope with
  • Information – Without any level of communication either with the child or at a minimum with the adoptive family, the lack of any information related to the child can be difficult to manage. Many birth parents in closed adoptions always wonder how their child is doing, what he or she looks like, what they’re interested in and who they grow up to be

A closed adoption can also have a negative impact on the child — something prospective birth mothers should take into consideration when weighing an open vs. closed adoption:

  • Identity confusion – As the child grows older, he or she can experience personal identity issues knowing they don’t have access to their biological parents. Many adoptees in closed adoption have questions that go unanswered and feel that something is missing in their lives.
  • Missing medical information – A child that may have medical issues related to biological family history won’t have the necessary information to potentially prevent or treat those health issues should they arise.

Ultimately, the choice of having an open or closed adoption is entirely up to you as the prospective birth mother. Everyone deals with grief and loss in adoption in different ways. Closed adoption may be far less common, but it’s still an option. Your adoption professional can go over open and closed adoptions and provide you with further information to help you make an informed decision that best fits your needs.

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