What’s the Difference Between Closed and Open Adoption?

If you’re experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and reading this blog, perhaps you’ve already made the brave choice to make an adoption plan for your child. Or maybe you’re still exploring your pregnancy options, wondering if adoption is right for you.

As the birth mother, you will have complete control as you design your adoption plan and decide what kind of relationship, if any, you would like to have with your child.

What is a Closed Adoption?

A closed adoption is an adoption plan that does not include any contact between the birth mother and the adoptive family or child. Typically, in closed adoptions, only relevant, non-identifying information is revealed about both parties.

While closed adoptions were once the norm, today, roughly only 5 percent of adoptions are completely closed and anonymous. If you decide an open adoption plan, in which you have contact with your child moving forward, is not best for you, you will be able to entrust your adoption process with an adoption professional.

In most closed adoption cases, you will have the option to later decide you would like to “open” your adoption plan, whether that’s through letters, photos, calls, or in-person visits. Likewise, depending on the local law regarding adoption, the child may choose to learn your identity when they turn a certain age (typically 18 or 21). 

What is an Open Adoption? 

95 percent of today’s adoptions are open or semi-open, meaning the birth mother has some form of relationship with her child and the adoptive family. In open adoptions, you will be able to decide, with the help of your adoption agency, what family your child will be placed with and what kind of relationship you would like to have with your child post-placement.

Open adoptions include varying levels of relationships including an exchange of identifying information, pre-adoption contact as you prepare for the birth and establish your relationship, and post-adoption contact as you continue your relationship with the family and child.

Open adoption relationships can include in-person, scheduled visits, phone calls, text messages, video chats, emails, or regular letters and photos. It’s absolutely up to you to decide what you want this process and relationship to look like.

Creating an open adoption plan can be a freeing and empowering experience for the birth mother and can benefit the child in the long run. Knowing who their birth parents are may provide a stronger sense of identity as they understand their background, culture, and family of origin. 

Not sure what kind of adoption is right for you? Options for Women is here to help! 

If you’re looking to learn more about the various types of adoption plans and decide what’s best for you and your child, Options for Women is here to help! We can talk through your options with you, listen to you as you process and plan, and could connect you with a loving and supportive adoption agency to help you build a plan that’s best for you!

Schedule your no-cost appointment today!


May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.