What are the different types of adoption?

The adoption world is full of terms and language that can be confusing. There is a lot more to the adoption process than simply deciding whether or not to make an adoption plan — including what type of adoption plan would work best for you.

Here is an explanation of three different types of adoption:

Closed Adoptions

When many people think about adoption, they picture a closed adoption in which the adoptive family and birth mother remain confidential, with no contact prior to or after the placement of the child. For many generations, it was common practice to keep adoptions closed. However, adoption has since shifted toward more openness. Today, some people believe closed adoptions to be “safer,” mainly out of a fear that if the birth parents know where the adoptive family lives, that they will want to take the child back. This fear has largely been perpetuated by television movies and sensationalized media reports, and in reality is extremely rare. Today’s adoption laws are very clear – once the adoption is finalized, the adoptive family is recognized as the child’s legal family forever.

Open Adoptions

In open adoptions, the birth parents and the adoptive family meet and/or speak prior to and even after the child is born, through phone calls and face-to-face visits. Some adoptions of this nature are very open, with the adoptive family and birth parents exchanging contact information and agreeing to periodic visits by the birth parents as the child grows.

Semi-Open Adoptions

Semi-open adoptions fall in between open and closed adoptions. The adoptive family and birth parents usually will share basic information about each other, such as their first names and state of residence. Complete contact information, such as phone numbers and addresses, are not shared. While adoptive families and birth parents often speak to each other prior to the birth of the child, some confidentiality is maintained. Once the child has been placed with the adoptive family, the birth parents may still stay in contact with the family via letters and pictures, either directly or through Cradle of Hope. Periodic sharing of photos and brief updates on the child are part of a semi-open adoption.

Evolving Relationships

Many adoptive families find that although at first they prefer a more closed or semi-open adoption, once they meet the birth parents and connect with them, they find the relationship may evolve into a more open adoption over time, if all parties agree.