In an adoption plan, there are three different types of adoption to choose from: open adoption, semi-open adoption, and closed adoption. Each category offers its own set of pros and cons, and exists to meet any and all requirements that both the adoptive parents and birth parents may have during the adoption process and beyond.
This level of adoption occurs when the birth mother and adoptive parents contact information is shared. No barriers are put up to prevent contact between these parties, either before the adoption is finalized, or afterwards.
In the context of an open adoption, if the birth mother has not yet given birth, the adoptive parents may be invited to participate in preparations for labor and birth. Following the adoption, some form of regular contact is then established between the birth parent and the adoptive family. The level of contact varies across families. For some, contact may occur in the form of regular e-mail or written letter updates with pictures only, with no in-person contact between the child and birth mother until the child is older. For other families, the birth mother becomes almost a member of the new family and is invited to major gatherings and celebrations.
In semi-open adoptions, birth mothers are given some choice about which parents will have the opportunity to raise the child. Birth mothers are presented with multiple profiles of potential adoptive families and then choose which family they believe has the most to offer their 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 another during the period leading up to the birth of the child, and some choose to remain more anonymous. In any event, contacts between the birth and adoptive parents stop following the final placement of the child with the adoptive parents.
With closed adoption, birth parents and adoptive parents have no contact with one another, never meeting and never gaining information about each other. The birth mother surrenders her child to an adoption agency and does not receive information about who adopts her child. All records identifying the birth parents are then sealed by the court. This information is not disclosed to the adoptive parents or to the adopted child, and there is no way for them to learn the identity of the birth mother. Only information about the birth mother’s medical history is shared with the adoptive family and child.
Up until recently, most adoptions were closed. However, this type of adoption has declined in popularity in recent years, largely because the majority of birth mothers now choose to have some say in determining who will ultimately raise their child.