What is Open Adoption

The most important questions prospective birth mothers often have when placing their babies with an adoptive family are about the families themselves. One path open to such mothers is an open adoption, or a semi-open adoption, both of which allow birth mothers to stay in relationship with their children. This arrangement also allows birth parents to get to know adoptive families before and after the adoption.

In an open adoption, adoptive parents and birth parents share identifying information and communicate with each other without the assistance of an adoption professional. For birth mothers, this means that instead of handing over their babies to an agency and an unknown family, they can formulate their own adoption plans tailored to their desires for the child.

Benefits of open adoption are several:

  • Pregnant women know they can maintain a relationship with their child. Choosing a family that agrees to that type of relationship allows contact with the child to increase or decrease throughout the years.
  • An adoptive family can stay up-to-date on the birth parents’ medical histories should any health issues arise for the child.
  • Adoption is no longer a secretive process. Adoptees can get to know their birth parents and understand why they made the decision they did. Rather than wonder if their birth parents loved them, they can see just how much selfless love is required to place a baby for adoption.

Semi-open adoption allows for similar benefits but with less contact. It usually keeps a line of communication open, but typically does not involve visits. The degree of contact is decided at the time of placement. It may involve sending letters and photos to the birth mother through the adoption agency.

Today, most adoptive families are interested in having an open adoption relationship. They are excited to get to know birth mothers during their pregnancy through phone calls or in-person meetings, and to interact with them at the hospital. Many families want birth mothers to remain part of the child’s life. Statistics say that only 5 percent of private adoptions today are closed. Research also shows that adoptees who maintain contact with their biological parents are more satisfied with their adoptions overall. 
Maintaining a close relationship with the adoptive family and his or her child is important for the birth mother’s emotional well‐being as well. Some birth mothers even create life-long bonds with their adoptive families and consider them a second family. By choosing open adoption, adoptive families have the chance to understand the selfless sacrifice that the mother made for her baby’s future.

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