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Adopting - Open versus Closed

Adopting - Open versus ClosedAdopting - Open versus Closed

Adopting - Open versus Closed

Identifying information is shared in an open child adoption while such information is not shared in a closed adoption.

Closed and Open Child Adoption

Many adopting families and most birth parents are unclear about what make an adoption closed or open.

In a closed adoption, the birth mother, birth father and you (the adopting family) are anonymous. While you may or may not meet and may share first names at the hospital or at placement, no identifying information such as last names, addresses, social security numbers, is exchanged. In an open adoption, the birth mother, birth father and you exchange identifying information and after the placement you may or may not have ongoing contact with each other.  The key factor is that identifying information is shared while in a closed adoption it is not shared.

Whether an adoption is closed or open is determined by what you want, what the birth mother and birth father want, what your state adoption law allows, and what agency you select. Some birth mother will only work with families wanting an open adoption and others only with those wanting a closed adoption.  Some child adoption agencies also dictate whether an adoption they conduct will be open or closed.  And then some states do the same by way of their child adoption law.

We have done hundreds of both closed and open adoptions over the years and have found neither one to be "safer" or more ''risky" than the other.  Both have their advantages and disadvantages.  Rest assured, however, that with either an open adoption or a closed adoption, as long as you are working with a licensed child adoption agency or an adoption attorney, you should have no problem just because the adoption is open or closed.

If you have additional questions or need help, please contact us. You may find the Child Welfare Information Gateway article Openness in Adoption: A Fact Sheet for Families helpful. 

Additional Resources: Open and Closed Adoption

American Association of Open Adoption Agencies

Helps families find agencies practicing open adoption. Adoptees on their mailing list respond to the question, "What do you wish your adoptive parents had known?"

Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project

Provides information on a longitudinal study of openness in adoption since 1985. The most recent wave included a total of 720 individuals: both parents in 190 adoptive families, at least one adopted child in 171 of the families, and 169 birth mothers. This study was the source of much of the research for this fact sheet and the bulletin for professionals.

Child Welfare Information Gateway

Cooperative (Open) Adoption Laws provides laws for each State on open (sometimes called "cooperative") adoption, compiled by the Clearinghouse.

Insight: Open Adoption Resources and Support

Offers open adoption resources for professionals and support for adoptive and birth parents considering open adoption.

Additional Information

For more information visit the link Open and closed adoption.

Help for Adopting Families by State

 Alabama  Montana
 Alaska  Nebraska
 Arizona  Nevada
 Arkansas  New Hampshire
 California  New Jersey
 Colorado  New Mexico
 Connecticut  New York
 Delaware  North Carolina
 Florida  North Dakota
 Georgia  Ohio
 Hawaii  Oklahoma
 Idaho  Oregon
 Illinois  Pennsylvania
 Indiana  Rhode Island
 Iowa  South Carolina
 Kansas  South Dakota
 Kentucky  Tennessee
 Louisiana  Texas
 Maine  Utah
 Maryland  Vermont
 Massachusetts  Virginia
 Michigan  Washington
 Minnesota  West Virginia
 Mississippi  Wisconsin
 Missouri  Wyoming
 More Adoption Help
 Pregnancy  Placing a child for adoption
 Parenting  Adopting a child

Adopting - Open versus ClosedAdopting - Open versus Closed