Open, Semi-Open, Closed Adoptions

An adoption can be open, semi-open or closed. Adoptive Parents and Birth Parents often begin their adoption journeys unsure of what kind of relationship they want with each other and unsure of what kind of relationship will be best for the Birth Parents and adopted child.

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What are the different types of Adoption?

Considering adoption? Although everyone has heard of adoption, many don’t understand what adoption is or what the adoption process is.
So, what does that mean? You, as the prospective birth mother get to decide what type of adoption is right for you and for your baby – open, semi-open or closed. That means “what level of contact you will have with your baby and their adoptive parents over the years.” You decide.

Open, Semi-Open and Closed Adoption Definitions

Open adoption

An adoption is considered open when there is a high level of communication in the relationship between a birth mother and the parents who are raising her child. The birth mother has contact information for the family and can reach out to the adopting parents when she likes. An open adoption relationship can include phone or video chats, texts, and even visits. Your child grows up knowing you and your relationship evolves naturally.

Semi-Open Adoption

A semi-open adoption is one where the birth mother and adopting parents have contact during her pregnancy and they usually meet in person before or right after the birth. They exchange calls and/or texts during this time. After the adoption, the adoptive parents send updates so you can be aware of how your child is doing as they grow.

Closed Adoption

In a closed adoption no information or contact is shared between adoptive parents and birth parents. In the past, almost all adoption in the US were closed, but today, most adoptions have some level of openness as decided by the birth mother and carried out by the adoptive parents.
As a part of your adoption plan, your Adoption Advisor will ask you what level of openness you will want to have with your child and with their adoptive parents after placement. When you meet them, you can go over this together so everyone knows what to expect.

Communication During your pregnancy

Once you’ve chosen an adopting family for your baby you can choose whether to open yourself to getting to know them. You can text, email or talk on the phone. Or you can have your Adoption Advisor take care of all that and she will get your questions answered. You must discuss the level of openness you think you’ll want after your baby is born with your Adoption Advisor and/or the Adopting Parents. This can change over time, but you need to set the stage to allow everyone to get used to how you want it to work.
You can meet the adopting parents in person and even have them come to doctor visits with you if they live close enough. You can develop a relationship with the family so you can be more comfortable with your choice. Or you can choose to have them wait until the baby is already born to come to you. You can ask them to be in the hospital; you can even have them in the room with you if you’re comfortable with that.

After your baby’s birth

While you’re still in the hospital, you can keep your baby with you and let the adopting parents visit when you’re ready. Or you can have them take the baby to another room if the hospital has one so they can bond. You can choose to be alone with your baby or you can have the nurses take them to the nursery to give you some time alone. You can choose any or all of these situations depending on how you’re feeling.

After Placement

Once you are discharged from the hospital and your baby is with their adopting parents, the choices you made during your pregnancy go into effect. If you chose to know how your baby is doing with regular photos and updates, make sure that you and the adoptive parents have decided on how that will take place and that it is set up to go. Many people choose Shutterfly, Facebook, texts or emails so you can see your child growing and thriving. If you’ve chosen a more open style of adoption and want phone or video calls, try to get that going as soon as possible. If you’re looking forward to visits with the family, make sure everyone is on board with how those will work. Discuss location, travel, accommodation, and duration of the visits. Sometimes these conversations can be hard to navigate, but communication is the most important part of this relationship. Your Adoption Advisor will help you get started with these conversations before the baby is born.


Your circumstances will change over time and so will your child’s family’s. If you start off just receiving photos and decide you want more, reach out to the family to see how they feel about it. If you find it just too hard to visit or see your child’s face on video calls, you can ask the family to just send pictures so you can view them at your pace.


The most important person in this whole story is your child. You and their adoptive parents must keep their best interests in mind while making any choices. Respect and communication are key.

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