Open Versus Closed Adoption: A Guide for Birth Mothers

Adoption Request — Phoenix, AZ — Arizona Adoption HelpBirthmothers have the opportunity to determine the amount of contact to have with their children and adoptive families after adoption. In your research, you will often encounter the terms open adoption and closed adoption. These terms may cause confusion, especially if you are unfamiliar with the adoption process. Fortunately, compiled is a simple guide to help birthmothers understand these terms.
Open Adoption
Open adoption allows a degree of openness between the adoptive families and birthmother. You and the adoptive family may agree on exchanging photos and letters, face-to-face visits, or constant contact throughout the child’s life.
Although open adoptions are the most prevalent form of adoption today, this wasn’t always the case. For most of the 20th century, adoption was a secretive process due to the social stigma of unwed mothers. Most children adopted during this time never got to meet their birthmothers or understand the reasoning behind their adoptions.
The social norm in regards to adoption shifted in the 1970s when research recommended open adoption for the wellbeing of children. By the 1980s, most unmarried women kept their children, and around 60-70% of domestic adoptions are open today.
Pros of Open Adoption for Birthmothers
The major advantage of open adoption for birthmothers is the peace of mind of knowing that your child is fine. This arrangement lets you see your child grow up and enjoy a personal relationship with them. In addition, you get reassurance in your adoption decision as you see your child thrive in the kind of environment you envisioned for them.
Another benefit is the chance to select and know the adoptive parents before placement. You get to ask all the questions you have before you make the decision. The level of communication and openness depends on you, the adoptive family, and the agency. Birthmothers and adoptive families forge strong and unique relationships in some cases.
Cons of Open Adoption for Birthmothers
Some birthmothers have unrealistic parenting expectations after placement. Everyone has flaws, and the adoptive parents will not always live up to your idea of perfection. Thus, accept that you can’t control the parenting style and attitudes of the adoptive family and communicate your expectations at the beginning of the relationship.
Some birthmothers also struggle to find closure amidst frequent communication with the adoptive parents. In this case, talk to an adoption professional to find a program that works for you.
Closed Adoption
If you opt for a closed adoption, the adoption agency doesn’t facilitate the exchange of identifying information between you and the adoptive family. The birth parents let the agency select adoptive parents, and there is no ongoing contact after placement. However, you can provide medical and genetic information to the adoptive family.
Closed domestic adoptions are rare, and many adoption agencies encourage a degree of openness to give the child a sense of personal identity. If the child decides to reach out to the birth parents after reaching legal age, the adoption agency should release contact information.
Pros of Closed Adoption for Birthmothers
Birthmothers choose closed adoptions for various reasons. For some, adoption is a fresh start after an unplanned pregnancy. The privacy accorded by a closed adoption also appeals to birthmothers with abusive partners or relatives. You may choose not to expose your child to an environment that compromises their safety.
Constant contact with adoptive families can also stir feelings of pain, loss, and fear for some birthmothers. Every birthmother deals with adoption differently, and a closed adoption can provide the privacy and security that some birth parents desire.
Cons of Closed Adoption for Birthmothers
When you choose a closed adoption, you don’t get reassurance that your child is living the life you desire for them. The inability to communicate your reasons for choosing adoption to your child causes emotional stress among birthmothers.
Other birth families struggle with feelings of denial, guilt, and abandonment after a closed adoption. A closed adoption process also narrows down your options for adoptive families, as most adoptive parents want an open adoption.
Is There Another Option?
A semi-open adoption may be an ideal option for you if you want indirect contact with the adoptive family. Typically, the adoption agency handles communication and exchange of information between adoptive parents and birthmothers. Communication can occur over letters, photos, emails, phone calls, or Skype. The degree of openness depends on your agreement with the adoptive family.
This arrangement lets you choose the adoptive parents and allow or restrict their access to the hospital as you deliver the child. Many birthmothers who choose semi-open adoption want the peace of mind of knowing how well their child is growing. This knowledge helps many birthmothers heal after an adoption.
Closed adoption was once the most popular form of adoption, but open adoption has become the norm. Each form of adoption has its pros and cons, and you should examine all your choices before deciding on the right adoption process for you and your child. Contact us at Arizona Adoption Help for additional information on your options.