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Open Adoption versus Closed Adoption Please feel free to contact me, Dr Vince Berger, at Adoption Services if you have any questions or if we can help you in any way Open Adoption versus Closed Adoption
Open Adoption versus Closed Adoption

Open Adoption or Closed Adoption


Most birth parents and adopting families are confused about what really constitutes an open child adoption and a closed child adoption.  Then when it comes time for a placement they may limit or commit themselves in ways they are not aware of.

Defining Open Adoption and Closed Adoption

Adoption Support GroupsA very simplified explanation is that an open adoption takes place when identifying information about the birth mother, birth father and adopting family is exchanged while a closed adoption takes place when the birth parents and adopting family do not have identifying information about each other.

In a closed adoption the birth parents and adopting family do not exchange identifying information. While many details may be shared, no identifying information such as last name, addresses, social security numbers, etc. is exchanged.  In a closed adoption the records and all identities are sealed including the original birth certificate.

Historically, in western society, a closed adoption was the most traditional type of adoption.  The sealing of records used to effectively prevent the adoptee and the natural parents from finding or identifying each other. However, the emergence of non-profit organizations and private companies to assist individuals with their sealed records has been effective in helping many birth parents and children to reunite.  Additionally, due to changing attitudes about adoption, open adoptions are now very common and, in some places, they are the norm.

In an open adoption the birth mother, birth father, and adopting parent(s) exchange identifying information and are then able, if they so choose, to be in direct contact with one another.  The degree of openness varies widely from occasional letters or phone calls, providing pictures on an ongoing basis, to actual physical meetings and sharing of birthdays and other holidays.

Open Adoption and Closed Adoption Information

At one time almost all agency adoptions were closed and if a birth mother wanted an open adoption she would need to contact an attorney and proceed with a private adoption.  This began to change about 15-20 years ago and is no longer the case.

Nowadays the birth mother and/or birth father can, and typically do, request some combination of updates, pictures, meetings, a closed adoption, an open adoption, or a semi-open adoption and most adoption agencies and adoption attorneys will fulfill their requests.  At the same time, you as the adopting family can decide what you are willing and desirous of doing.  Then the adoption agency or adoption attorney will match you and the birth parents based on the comparability of your requests.

Note that in some states open adoptions or closed adoptions are restricted and many agencies have their own way of dealing with open and closed adoption.  Accordingly, whether an adoption is open or closed will depend on what you want, what the birth mother and birth father request, what your state allows, and what agency you select.

No one level of openness in a child adoption is best for everyone and each child adoption changes over time.  Whether an adoption is open or closed will not cause your child to be emotionally healthy or unhealthy.  Make sure to make known to your adoption agency what you are comfortable with, and then stick to what you want.

Open and Closed Adoption Resources

Several other websites provide research and issues to consider in open child adoption.  These include:

American Association of Open Adoption Agencies helps families find agencies practicing open child adoption.

Child Welfare Information Gateway is a good source of general adoption information and has an article titled Openness in Adoption Factsheet for Families.

Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support offers open child adoption resources for professionals and support for adoptive and birth parents considering open child adoption.

Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project provides information on a longitudinal study of openness in child adoption since 1985.

Additional Open and Closed Adoption Help

Adoption Services has extensive experience with open and closed child adoption as well as variations of these two.  We are here to help you determine the best choice for you and then to help implement your choices in a way that will eliminate problems and concerns.  We are able to help you with an adoption regardless of the state in which you reside but we are able to complete a Home Study only for adopting persons who are residents of PA, NJ, NY, VA, WV, and FL.

For additional help with an adoption agency adoption visit the link Selecting an adoption Agency.  You can also find a list of adoption agencies in your state and neighboring states at the link Domestic Adoption Agencies.

If you need or want some specific personal advice contact your state child welfare agency or state adoption contact.  You can also call Dr. Vince Berger, a psychologist and adoption professional.

Please visit our home page to read about our commitment to assist adoptive parents like you as well as pregnant women and birth parents.

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Adoption Consultant Resource

Why You Need an Adoption Consultant

There are many risks when you go to adopt a child including losing a child after you have already taken them home (referred to as a disruption), loosing all of the money you have invested in the adoption if the birth mother changes her mind, or finding that there are previously unknown or undisclosed fees that may appear. Dr Berger has helped thousands of  adopting families with domestic adoptions and international adoptions and he is available to assist you no matter what type of adoption you chose to pursue and regardless of whether you work with an adoption agency, facilitator or adoption attorney.  He can help you save your  time, effort and money in helping you to decide what routes to take and the best way to achieve your goal of adopting a child. He can help reduce your risks and potential pain and can help you avoid many of the problems and pitfalls found in the adoption process. You can read and download his free adoption manual or, for more information on how he can help you, please visit his Adoption Consultant link.

We Help Adopting Persons Living in Any State

We are licensed in multiple states and are able to help a birth mother, birth father, and adopting family living in any of the 50 U.S. states.
Open Adoption versus Closed Adoption Open Adoption versus Closed Adoption
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