Open v. Closed Adoption - Which is Right for You? - Tessmer Law Firm
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Open v. Closed Adoption – Which is Right for You?

Years ago, nearly all adoptions were closed.


A closed adoption means there is no contact between the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child after the adoption has taken place.


Today, adoptions are open in a variety of ways. You may think that an open adoption means the birth parents keep visitation and access to the child. That is an example of an open adoption, but not the only one. There is no real definition of what an open adoption is.


In general, open adoption means that the birth and adoptive parents share some identifiable information or contact. For example, they may share names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. They may agree to have contact with each other before and after the adoption. They may agree to personal visits, to share photos of the child or to share in birthdays and holiday celebrations.


Closed adoption is becoming less requested by birth mothers each year. Before the 1980s, closed adoption was common. When a baby was given up for adoption, the doctor or placement agency would find an adoptive family, completely unknown to the birth mother. It was difficult, if not impossible, for an adopted child to uncover his medical history, or to track down his biological parents once he became an adult.


Over the years, adoption as a whole has evolved into a more open process, which most birth and adoptive parents believe is for the better. Some families still choose closed adoption, receiving medical information but little else.


What about an adoption that falls somewhere between open and closed?


That is a “semi-open adoption.” A semi-open adoption includes the exchange of non-identifiable information and mediated contact through an adoption agency. Examples of non-identifiable contact are first names, or the state or region where the birth and/or adoptive parents live. Mediated contact might be a conference call between the birth parents, adoptive parents and a social worker, or letters and photos forwarded to the birth parents from the agency.


In the U.S. today, there are more than 100,000 children waiting to be adopted from just the foster care system alone. That figure does not include children available through private agencies or by other arrangements. Every child deserves a loving home and there are so many ways birth and adoptive parents can come together to make adoption work.


If you have questions or need help with an adoption in your family, call us at 210-368-9708 to schedule a consultation.