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Types of Adoption

Once a woman has decided to pursue adoption (or is at least considering it seriously), the next decision is to determine which level of adoption openness is most preferable.

There are three types of adoptions that may be chosen: open, semi-open, and closed adoption. These terms describe the approximate level of contact and interaction that the birth mother can expect to have with the adoptive parents, and thus the child, both during the adoption process and after.

Open Adoption is when a prospective birth mother voluntarily places her baby for adoption with an adoptive family and the parties agree to continue communication after placement. Open adoptions vary in their terms of agreement and might include, photos, emails, telephone calls, and even face to face visit. The post-placement agreement will be outlined before placement to ensure that all parties are on the same page.

The post-placement agreement may include frequency of contact and types of contact. Frequency and type of contact depend upon the preferences and circumstances of the birth mother and the adoptive parents. It will also be important to keep in mind that while this document guides birth mothers and adoptive families, that does not necessarily mean that it is set in stone. As the child grows up, and circumstances and situations evolve, a birth mother and the adoptive parents may desire to change frequency and type of contact in their open adoption.

Semi-Open Adoptions occur when personal information is kept confidential and post-placement contact is mediated by the adoption professional with your agency, lawyer, or an agreement with the family. A birth mother may want to have some level of contact with her birth child, but not want any identifying information to be revealed. Perhaps she only wants pictures and updates of her child but doesn’t desire direct contact with the adoptive family. In this case, an adoption professional would mediate that relationship and maintain the privacy of all parties.

This is a great option for a woman who has chosen adoption, but doesn’t want an open relationship with her child and his or her family. In semi-open adoptions, birth mothers are presented with multiple profiles of potential adoptive families, and they can then choose which family they believe has the most to offer the child. Though profiles contain lots of descriptive information about each potential adoptive family, identifying information (e.g., last names, addresses, etc.) is not provided.

Personal contact between the birth mother and her chosen adoptive parents may or may not occur during the adoptive process, depending largely on the preferences of the various parties. Some families choose to contact each other during the period leading up to the birth of the child, and some choose to remain more anonymous. In any event, contact between the birth and adoptive parents often stops following the final placement of the child with the adoptive parents.

Closed Adoptions are the opposite of an open adoption. A closed adoption is an adoption in which there is no communication or contact between the birth mother and her birth child during his or her upbringing. The birth child may decide at age 18 to open adoption records and contact his or her birth mother. However, the child will not have access to his or her birth mother’s information until then.

Closed adoptions were very popular for a long time in history, as society believed that contact between a birth mother and her child could be harmful to both parties, especially the child. However, recent research is evolving to change the desired post-placement agreement to be at least semi-open. The benefits to continued contact for both the birth mother and the child outweigh the previous fears that society had regarding open adoption.

Overall, the level of openness in every adoption is different, as is every relationship. While boundaries you may choose can vary, emotions are something that each relationship should try to keep the same: happy. Thinking of all people involved while making decisions will help your open adoption thrive and bring everyone as close together as possible. Adoption Choices of Florida will help you decide which level of adoption openness is most important for you and will match you with a family who chooses the same! Call us anytime at 800-985-8108