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What Is Open Adoption?

What is open adoption? | Unplanned Pregnancy

What is open adoption?

Open adoption refers to the contact the birth parents, adoptive parents, and adoptee have after an adoption placement takes place. Generally speaking, there are three categories of post-placement communication.

  1. Open Adoption Relationships  Birth families, adoptive families, and the adoptee have ongoing relationships that may include visits, calls/texts, and even friendships on social media. One thing to keep in mind is no two open adoptions are the same. In one relationship, both the birth and adoptive family may see each other once every two months, and in another relationship both families may see each other four times a year. Whatever works for both families’ schedules may indicate their visitation and communication agreements.
  2. Semi-open Adoption Relationships  In a semi-open adoption situation, small amounts of information are exchanged. You may know each others’ names, have met once or twice before or at the adoption placement, and share letters and pictures on a schedule. In some situations, you may not have face-to-face visits or have personal contact. In these adoption arrangements an adoption professional often mediates limited correspondence.
  3. Closed Adoption Relationships  In a closed adoption (sometimes called a confidential adoption, birth parents and adoptive families do not have contact with one another. In some cases, birth parents and adoptive families may not even meet. With a closed adoption, the birth parents information are completely sealed. Closed adoptions may become an option if it protects the birth mother and/or the adoptive parents, or if it’s just the decision to have a closed adoption.

It’s important to remember that in all of these categories of communication, the specifics of each relationship can vary greatly and can change over time. Just like meaningful relationships outside of the adoption world, open adoption relationships take communication, work, forgiveness, and giving the benefit of the doubt.

In the United States, 95% of adoptions today have some level of openness.

55% of adoptions are open or fully disclosed.
40% of adoptions are semi-open, meaning they have mediated contact usually through an agency
5% of adoptions are closed or confidential

Hear a birth mother explain how she is still involved in her daughter’s life after she placed her for adoption.

We have to be so brutally honest as birth mothers about who we are and who we think we are and what’s best for this child. Adoption is so complicated and hard and it’s painful but it’s so beautiful and amazing at the same time. / Sage, adoptee in a closed adoption and birth mother in an open adoption

After running away from her probation, Sage found out she was pregnant. Sadly, she was caught for breaking her probation and sent to prison. One day, her father visited her and presented the idea of adoption. Sage did not like that option, but once she completed her sentence, she realized she didn’t have the means to care for her unborn child. Eventually Sage knew adoption would be the best idea. Sage shares her story about open adoption and her relationship with her daughter, Nora.

Hear adoptive parents talk about why they chose open adoption for their children.

This should be one of the best relationships, or one of the relationships you work the hardest at. / Josh Redfern, Adoptive Dad, Open Adoption Advocate

The Redferns are loving adoptive parents to four children, all of whom are in an open adoption. The Redferns were first scared of the term “open adoption” and what that would mean for their children and their birth parents. But, once they started to go to adoption seminars, they both realized they wanted to be a part of an open adoption. The Redferns share their adoption  journey and the greatness of open adoptions.

Hear an adoptee explain how she feels about her birth parents how she isn’t confused about who they are.

It’s really cool to have two sets of parents that love me equally. Not all kids have two sets of parents. / Eliza Jane, young adoptee in an open adoption

Eliza is happy girl who happens to be in an open adoption. She knows both her birth mother and birth father; she even attended her birth mother’s wedding. Eliza shares her relationship and love for both adoptive and birth parents. Eliza also mentions how they are all family to her, not two separate families.