For most of the history of adoption, closed adoptions were the norm. But today, thankfully, prospective birth mothers can choose the type of adoption that works best for everyone involved without being ashamed of their decision.

If you’re considering adoption for your baby, you might be wondering about the difference between closed and open adoptions. Here is what you should know to make the best choice for yourself and your baby.

Open Adoption

Open adoptions are most common types of adoptions today. If you are wondering about the difference between an “open” and “closed adoption” definition, know that an open adoption means having as much contact with the adoptive family and your baby as you would like.

This option has plenty of benefits for everyone involved, but it may not be right for every prospective birth mother. Consider these factors before selecting an open adoption:

Benefits of Open Adoptions:

Open vs. closed adoption statistics have shown that continuing your relationship with your child as you get older will have a profound effect on their emotional well‐being, as well as your own. Many prospective birth mothers struggle with feelings of grief and loss after their adoption and find that open adoptions lead to better outcomes for everyone involved. If you choose open adoption, you will have a stronger relationship with your child’s adoptive parents, and they can come to you if they want to know more about your child’s history and background.

Cons of Open Adoptions:

Even though you’ll always be your child’s biological mother and an important part of their life, you won’t have any say in any decisions the adoptive family makes for your child. Open adoption is not the same as co-parenting.

For some prospective birth mothers, staying in contact with the adoptive family can also serve as a potentially painful reminder of the difficult adoption decision they made out of love for their children, and they decide that a clean break is better for their mental health and healing.

While many adoption professionals will suggest that you consider an open adoption due to how beneficial it is, there are always a few different types of adoption available to you. Every adoption is different, so you can pick the option you feel most comfortable with.

If you have any questions or concerns about choosing an open or closed adoption, or are leaning towards a fully‐open adoption, be sure to talk to your adoption specialist for support.

Closed Adoptions

An open adoption might not be the best option for every prospective birth mother, and that’s okay. Many prospective birth mothers want to know, “What is the difference between an open and closed adoption?”

In a closed adoption, you don’t share any identifying information about yourself with the adoptive family or your baby. Just like with an open adoption, there are some pros and cons to choosing this type of adoption:

Benefits of a Closed Adoption:

For some birth mothers, staying in contact and seeing how their child is doing can be too heartbreaking and can make it like feel almost impossible to move forward. A closed adoption can provide you with the closure you need in order to make this difficult decision. You might also be considering a closed adoption because of your relationship with the baby’s father, and that’s okay too.

Cons of a Closed Adoption:

While you’ll receive closure through a closed adoption, it also means that you’ll miss out on so much of your child’s life. You won’t have a deep relationship with the adoptive family like you would in an open adoption, and you also won’t be able to see your child grow and thrive in their new environment. Another big difference between open and closed adoption is that your child won’t know why you placed them for adoption and will never know their full open adoption story. Closed adoptions are increasingly rare but are still a possibility for women like you.

But, what if neither an open nor closed adoption sounds right? If you’re still unsure of an open vs. closed adoption, there is still one option available to you.

Meeting in the Middle: Semi‐Open Adoptions

When trying to decide between open vs. closed adoption, you might feel like neither option really speaks to you. But, there is an option for women in your situation: semi‐open adoption.

But what is a semi‐open adoption, and what can you expect from it?

Like most types of adoption, it’s difficult to find one semi‐open adoption “definition.” But, with this option, you can typically expect to share:

  • Your first name
  • What state you live in with no mention of address
  • Pictures and letters mediated by your adoption agency

If you can’t decide between a closed vs. open adoption, a semi‐open adoption might be the best alternative for you and your baby. It provides a sense of privacy you may want, as well as the chance to see your child grow up in the years to come.

If you’re like to learn more about open or closed adoptions, or if you’re looking for more open and closed adoption articles, here are some great agencies that can help you get started.

No matter which type of adoption — open, closed, or semi‐open — you desire, the final decision will always be up to you.