What is open adoption vs. closed adoption?

Open adoption and closed adoption are two different approaches to the process of adoption, specifically in the context of maintaining contact and information exchange between birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child.

Open Adoption: In an open adoption, there is ongoing communication and contact between the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted child. The level of openness can vary widely and is typically agreed upon by all parties involved. This could involve exchanging letters, emails, phone calls, and even in-person visits. Open adoption allows the child to have some level of access to their birth family’s history, background, and potentially their medical information. It can also help the child to develop a sense of identity and understanding about their origins.

Closed Adoption: In a closed adoption, the identifying information of the birth parents and adoptive parents is usually kept confidential. There is little to no direct contact between the birth parents and adoptive parents, and in many cases, the adopted child does not have access to their birth parents’ information. Historically, closed adoptions were more common and were often carried out to protect the privacy of all parties involved. However, this approach has become less common as more research and understanding have emerged about the psychological and emotional benefits of maintaining some level of connection to one’s birth heritage.

It’s important to note that there is also a middle ground called “semi-open adoption” or “confidential intermediary adoption,” where limited information might be exchanged through an intermediary, such as an adoption agency or lawyer, without direct contact between the birth and adoptive families.

The choice between open, closed, or semi-open adoption depends on various factors, including the preferences of the birth parents, adoptive parents, and the best interests of the child. Both approaches have their advantages and challenges, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer. Many adoption agencies today offer different options to accommodate the needs and wishes of all parties involved.

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