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Open vs Closed Adoption

open vs closed adoption - what is the difference?If you are pregnant and thinking about adoption for your baby, it’s likely that you have a hundred different emotions and just as many questions. You might be wondering, “open vs closed adoption – what is the difference and which might be right for me”?

There are some important differences between open and closed adoptions that you should be clear on before you make any kind of decision. Let’s jump into it and see if I can answer your questions.

What Is Open Adoption?

In an open adoption, the birth mother chooses the adoptive family.  Everyone will know at least basic information about each other.  The amount of contact they have is up to the birth mother.  

Here are some key things that come along with open adoption:

  • The birth mother chooses who will parent her child.
  • She decides if she wants contact with the adoptive family and her baby.
  • Everyone can share medical and other important information.

What it means for the birth mother:

  • The birth mother can watch her child grow and thrive and not wonder how her child is doing.
  • The birth mother’s current and future children have the opportunity to connect with the adopted child.
  • She can feel confident that she won’t have unwanted contact with the adoptive family and the adopted child.

What it means for the adoptive family:

  • Open adoption allows parents to share a unique bond with the woman who made them a family.
  • They will have access to ongoing social and medical information about their adopted children.
  • Adoptive parents will have more information to share with their adopted child about the biological family.

What Is Closed Adoption?

babies can benefit from open adoption

Consider your options for a closed vs. open adoption carefully

In a closed adoption, a woman relinquishes her child to an adoption agency who then chooses a family who will adopt the child.  There is no contact between the biological parents and the adoptive parents.  They don’t know each other’s identities.  The birth mother may only see the baby in the hospital, if she wishes.

Here are some things unique to closed adoptions:

  • The expectant mother does not choose who will raise her child.
  • There is not contact between the expectant mother and the adoptive parents before the baby is born or in the future.
  • There is not contact between the birth mother and the child.
  • A closed adoption usually cannot be switched to an open adoption.
  • Closed adoptions are less common.

What it means for the birth mother:

  • The birth mother will not see her child.
  • The adoptive parents may not tell the child she is adopted.
  • There will be no contact between the child and the biological family.
  • The birth mother’s future children will likely never have contact with the adopted child.

What it means for the adoptive family:

  • They cannot share social or medical information with the biological family.
  • Their adopted child may have questions about the biological family that they are unable to answer.
  • They may not get important information that could be helpful in raising their adopted child.

Open vs Closed Adoption  – What Are The Main Differences?

Open Adoption Provides Flexibility

In the future will you want more flexibility to find out how the child is doing?

So after understanding open vs closed adoption, here is a summary of the main differences:

  • There is no sharing of information or identities in a closed adoption.
  • Open adoptions provide flexibility.  Birth mothers decide how much contact they want with the family and their baby, if any.
  • The adoptee may have questions that cannot be answered if it’s a closed adoption.

A closed adoption might be something to consider, if you are certain you don’t want the child to know who you are.  On the other hand, an open adoption might be worth considering if you are uncertain and want flexibility in the future.     

The important thing to remember is that a closed adoption cannot be made into an open adoption, and an open adoption offers flexibility.  Many more women have regrets about closed adoptions.  Studies show that adoptees benefit from knowing at least basic information about their biological family.

If you’d like to know more about open vs closed adoption just let me know! Or read about my adoption story.

Contact Us

Are you pregnant and thinking about adoption for your baby? I can help. You can send me your questions about adoption or ask me to send you more information. Your communication with me is always confidential, and you’re never under any obligation to do an adoption. I’m here to help, not to pressure you or tell you what to do.


Megan Cohen, Birth Attorney

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