Open vs closed adoption—what’s right for me?
In the past, adoptions were almost always kept private. An expecting mother had very little say in choosing the adoptive family and whether or not she would be a part of her baby’s life after the adoption.
Thankfully, we live in a time where adoption is becoming a more respected choice. Now, an expecting mother is completely free to choose the adoptive parents and decide how much contact she wants with her baby after adoption or if she wants any at all.
There is no one “right answer” when it comes to choosing an adoption plan—there’s only the right answer for you. Let’s look at the pros and cons of both open and closed adoption—what makes them different and how you can use them to write your unique adoption story.
The pros and cons of closed adoption
While fewer expecting mothers are choosing closed adoptions, it is still preferred by women who value their privacy. A closed adoption means identifying information will be kept private, and you will have no direct contact with the adoptive parents. However, birth parents may still need to share medical history to ensure their baby receives the best care.
Getting a sense of closure
To some birth mothers, closed adoption can feel like a fresh start. By selecting a plan that restricts contact with their baby and the adoptive parents, these women get the closure they need to move on with their lives and focus on their futures.
No updates about your baby’s life
While many birth mothers find closure through closed adoption, it’s not for everyone. Because there is no contact with your baby and their adoptive family, you won’t receive updates about your baby’s growth, personality or interests. As a result, some women who choose this plan may feel a greater sense of regret and loss—and their children may feel the same.
Changing closed adoption is more difficult
While adoption laws vary from state to state, it’s generally much harder to alter a closed adoption than an open one. If you want to change a closed adoption, you will need to ask your adoption agency to contact the adoptive parents for you. If they’re receptive to altering the adoption plan, new contact boundaries can be set.
The pros and cons of open adoption
More flexibility with your plan
In contrast to closed adoption, open adoption is much easier to customize and change. You choose the level of openness you want for your adoption plan—from photos and texts to letters and visits—and if at any time you find yourself needing more distance, you can simply contact the adoptive family yourself and let them know.
You get updates about your baby
Every open-adoption experience is different, but the best part of any open adoption is getting to watch your baby grow up. Many birth mothers who choose to keep in contact with their baby usually feel like they’ve not only kept a relationship with their child but also gained a loving, adoring second family.
Beneficial for your child and their adoptive family
Just as a birth mother can gain a loving second family, a child can also feel more love and support from both of their families through open adoption. Recent research shows that open adoption helps adopted children feel more confident in their identity and their background. A child who can turn to their biological family for answers to questions and understand why their birth mother chose to place them can replace doubt and loss with peace and assurance. Open adoption also makes it possible for an adoptive family to have more information about your family history and to help your child feel connected to where they came from.
Sharing personal information
While it’s normal to share information with your baby’s adoptive parents, birth mothers who want privacy might feel reluctant to answer the personal questions that may come with open adoption. This is why open adoptions should always be customized to fit the comfort of the expecting mother.
Moving on while staying connected
When you choose an open adoption, you are choosing to stay connected to your baby without being the one to raise them. Some birth mothers may find it difficult to watch their child experience life with another family. Fortunately, if you choose open adoption, you can always decrease the amount of contact you have with the family according to your and your child’s emotional needs.
Creating an adoption plan that fits you
Now that you understand closed and open adoption, ask yourself these questions:
“Do I want to be a part of my baby’s life?”
“Do I want a relationship with my baby’s adoptive family?”
“Would completely cutting ties leave me with unanswered questions or regrets?”
“Is having contact with my baby more important than my desire for privacy?”
If you answered yes to most of these questions, open adoption might be a good option for you. If you answered no to most of them, closed adoption is probably a better fit. If you landed somewhere in the middle, semi-open adoption or a specially customized open adoption might be best.
In a semi-open option, a mediator will be the go-between for you and the family. Any updates you receive about your baby will always be through the mediator—not directly from the adoptive parents. A semi-open adoption is not as permanent as a closed adoption and allows you to keep some contact with your baby while still maintaining your privacy.
Choosing an adoption plan is a very personal decision, and there’s no need to rush into it. Take your time, examine your feelings and get help from A Guardian Angel’s adoption professionals. We will give you the support, care and information you need to feel completely confident in your choice.