In honor of National Adoption Month, our November blog posts are focused on adoption. Today’s blog explores open vs. closed adoptions. These terms are often thrown around in discussions surrounding adoption. Simply put, they refer to the agreed-upon relationship between the adoptive parents and the birth mother before and after the placement. However, the meanings of these terms are not as definitive as they may seem.
Open adoptions encompass a broad variety of relationships. While many people understand them as continuing a relationship between the child and the birth mother after the child has been adopted (through visits and communication, for example), this is only one example of open adoptions. The common thread in all open adoptions is that some kind of in-person contact exists between the adoptive family and the birth mother, and the parties share identifying information. However, the degree of openness between the parties is different in every adoption. Some families may elect to have regular visits with the birth mother, while others may choose to arrange phone calls during the holidays.
Closed adoptions involve limited contact. Identifying information is not shared between the parties, nor do relationships exist between the parties before and after the placement. Typically, the only information shared in closed adoptions includes medical records. However, in this age of electronic communication and social media, it may be nearly impossible to conceal the other party’s identifying information.