Open, Semi-open and closed adoption — The Bump
Adoption

Open, Semi-open and closed adoption

I've been reading a lot about it and I am not sure how to feel about those three.

Care to share your opinions, preferences and experiences?

Re: Open, Semi-open and closed adoption

  • I don't have any experience yet, but after all the reading I've been doing, I am 100% pro-open adoption.  Check out my blog for book reviews/suggestions.  There are tons of books out there about the need for openness in adoption, but you have to decide what will be best for your family.  I am a huge proponent of doing your research.
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  • From what I've heard, closed adoption is rare these days (unless maybe you're in a situation where the state terminates the parent's rights).  My ideal situation is a semi open.  I want to know the parents, have a decent relationship with them, be able to contact them for medical information if need be and tell my child a little about them, etc.  I don't love the idea of the BM wanting to do monthly dinners at our house, but it will all depend on the BM that chooses us and the chemistry between us.  I'm also told, statistically, even if you start with a lot of BM involvement, after the first year, they tend to drop off quite a bit.
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  • I wanted to write because our hearts changed so much from the beginning of our adoption journey. I went in thinking that we would want "as closed as possible" because of my uncertainty about having my children have another set of parents, not knowing what a relationship with birthparents would be like and other fears. Then I started talking to people who had actually been through adoption who had different types of adoption. 

    For us, meeting one family with three very open adoptions and one semi-open adoption changed our hearts like a switch flipped. From what I have seen, open adoption is OFTEN (not always) the healthiest option for everyone involved (child, birthparents and adoptive parents).

    We have a very open adoption with the birthparents of our son, and we are so blessed through it. We LOVE them, and are thankful for them in our lives. Now, I am of the opinion that there can never be too many people loving a baby (which is what I tell people who are skeptical about open adoption).

    We have only been through one adoption, but we hope to have open adoptions for all of ours.  Each situation is different, though, and this is just my experience. PM me if you want to know any further details about how our openess works. HTH!

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  • They can mean so many things.

    Open means there is some face to face interaction. That can be occasional, or frequent. It can be exchanging everything from e-mail addresses to visiting at each other's homes. And everything in between.

    Semi-open means communication goes through a 3rd party, usually an adoption agency. It can be frequent or occasional, and it can be one-sided. APs could send info to an agency that holds it in case a birthfamily wants it immediately or at some much later point in time. Or it can be two-sided, with notes, pictures, etc. flowing back and forth.

    Closed is the only one that has just one definition, which is no contact at all. Sometimes there is some basic information provided, and sometimes there's no information at all.

    I prefer at least semi-open, if not open. This is with the caveat that there are no major red flags with the birthfamily such as violence, drug use, or other things that would put the child in danger. IMO it's important for the child to have a resource to turn to in order to find out about anything from medical history to where they got certain personality traits. While there are plenty of adoptees who have no interest in finding out about their birthfamilies, there are also plenty who want at least basic information and have a hard time finding it.

    We have something between a semi-open and open adoption. We don't share last names or addresses. Letters and pictures go through our adoption agency. However, we have a blog we set up for DD's birthmfamily that I try and update at least once a week, and we meet twice a year. I like it. I actually sometimes wish we had more contact with DD's birthfamily, but they seem to be happy with the arrangement, so I'm not going to push it. I like the fact that DD can see her birthfamily on a regular basis, for a variety of reasons. They can see that she's doing well and won't have to wonder if they made the right decision. She can have some sort of relationship with them, and as she gets older can make that relationship closer or more distant. If she has a question about her birthfamily, she has a way to contact them and get answers. We really like DD's birthfamily, so we enjoy spending time with them.

  • IRRIRR
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    image Dr.Loretta:

    We have something between a semi-open and open adoption. We don't share last names or addresses. Letters and pictures go through our adoption agency. However, we have a blog we set up for DD's birthmfamily that I try and update at least once a week, and we meet twice a year.

    So interesting that you have visits twice a year and yet you haven't shared your last name with them or address.  Just wondering why not?  Our lawyer told us we didn't need to share our last name with our BP, yet I knew at some point she would want to be FB friends and that actually happened at our first meeting.  I would have felt uncomfortable telling her "NO" and already knew before meeting her that I would oblige if asked.  They live to far to agree to annual visits and to date we haven't even discussed that, but I figured with the internet at some point if all goes well, we can always SKYPE.

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  • It seems like there's several definitions for open vs closed.... which I think is super important to acknowledge. 

    One definition is Open is definited by the birth mom choosing a couple and knowing first names of APs (or other such identifying information).  It has nothing to do w/visits or exchanges of information.  Rather the information is not hidden or concealed.  Thus it is an Open adoption.

    I bring this up because when people say "closed" is such a rarity these days, it's often based on this definition.  It is rare for a birth mom not to have some say... even if it's "I don't care as long as it's a two parent (or whatever it is) family".  By this definition, the birth mom has a say in the choice of PAPs and it's no longer closed. 

    I've not heard of anyone having a truly closed adoption during my exposure.  And what I mean by that is that the identity of the birth mom is completely removed.  Paperwork is sealed and no one has any access.

     All of that said, we have adopted twice.  DD1 is what some would call a closed adoption.  I have not met her birth mom but she does know who we are (names... and she may have snooped on FB).  She chose not to meet us or even share pictures.  At the time of the adoption she said she didn't want any contact.  However, her father (birth grandfather) has kept in email touch and FB touch with my husband. 

    DD2 is in a more traditional open relationship.  We've met her BM, grandBM, and BF.  They are in another state.  We can't visit BM due to legal issues but we recently had a visit with birth GMa which lasted less than an hour. 

     How do I feel about these different relationships?   I wish that we had more contact with DD1's birth family.  In today's norm, I think having more contact will be easier for my daughter to adjust to who she is and where she comes from.  I am glad we have contact with DD2's birth family.  It will help piece together her past for her. 

    I really never thought I'd be in a place where I preferred open to closed but I do.  I do because it's the trend now.... as silly as that sounds, with open being the norm, my DD1 will feel like the odd bird in adoption circles where kids have knowledge of their birth parents (DA circles).

    FWIW, I've seen very few open situations where the birth parents visit regularly.  I know it happens but in my exposure to adoption, this seems to be a rarity.  Most open situations involve occassional letters or calls and a once a year visit. 

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  • I'll chime in.  I'm a birth mom in a very open adoption, my DD will be 8 in a few weeks and I'm 27. I choose an adoptive couple that would be open to (and want) the same amount of contact/openness as I did.  Of course I benefit from this.  I get my see my child grow and prosper in a loving and healthy environment, solidifying my decision. My child will always know how much I love her, she will never wonder "did my biological mother not love me, not want me?".  She will know her heritage and not have unanswered questions about medical history. She will not have to ponder meeting her birthparent as a teen/adult and trying to form a relationship, figure out boundaries, etc.. I wanted to be apart of her life from day 1. 

    We visit pretty often, every 3-4 months; the venue changes between a park, my home, their home or a restaurant.  I've known their personal information since our first meeting (last names, work place, etc.).  At that first meeting it just really just clicked for us, we became like family right then and there. I loved that they wanted an open adoption for the same reasons I did.  For the child, but also for me. I don't know how I would survive not seeing or knowing who my daughter is. We were very open and honest with each other, even when it's uncomfortable and we have built our relationship on trust and love for DD.  

    I believe it's easier for a child to grow up with a stable relationship with his/her birthparent then to try and establish the relationship later in life. Albeit, I do acknowledge that not all BP's are capable of providing this and sometimes it is in the best interest of the child to not have an open adoption.  

    DD's adoptive family are so much then just those words "adoptive" to me, they are family.  

    BM to Kenzie 9/1/04 --- Married 1/22/09 --- Me 27 - DH 25 --- TTC our first since April 2010 Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers
  • image IRR:
    image Dr.Loretta:

    We have something between a semi-open and open adoption. We don't share last names or addresses. Letters and pictures go through our adoption agency. However, we have a blog we set up for DD's birthmfamily that I try and update at least once a week, and we meet twice a year.

    So interesting that you have visits twice a year and yet you haven't shared your last name with them or address.  Just wondering why not?  Our lawyer told us we didn't need to share our last name with our BP, yet I knew at some point she would want to be FB friends and that actually happened at our first meeting.  I would have felt uncomfortable telling her "NO" and already knew before meeting her that I would oblige if asked.  They live to far to agree to annual visits and to date we haven't even discussed that, but I figured with the internet at some point if all goes well, we can always SKYPE.

    It was DD's BM's decision. She's never indicated she wants more visits, contact through FB, exchange of e-mails, phone #s, or addresses. It wasn't a matter of us saying no, it was a matter of her not stating that she wants more info shared.

    It might also help to know that we didn't meet DD's birthfamily until after she was born. So it's not like we were chatting with each other in the weeks/months leading up to her birth.

  • IRRIRR
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    Thanks for replying.
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  • I understand the benefits of open adoption as far as having information about the BPs and knowing who they are, etc. I guess I stuggle a little bit with the kind of openess that Patches describes.

    On the one hand, I can definitely see the benefit. For birth parents, they get to see their children and know they are doing well, and the children know who their birth family is and get to have a relationship with them. I can't see how that would be a bad thing.

    But maybe Patches or another birthmom can answer: Do you feel like the child you placed is still your child? Do you feel like you are their mother? In terms of open adoption, I've heard people say things like "plenty of kids have parents, step parents, multiple sets of grandparents, etc, so it's no different than that", but I guess I'm wondering, do the children FEEL like they have two sets of parents? Or is it more like there is an extended family and they know that the BPs gave birth to them, but the BPs feel more like another relative than like a parent?

    I hope this made sense and isn't offensive to anyone. I've just been grappling with this.

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  • image CalinsBride:

    I understand the benefits of open adoption as far as having information about the BPs and knowing who they are, etc. I guess I stuggle a little bit with the kind of openess that Patches describes.

    On the one hand, I can definitely see the benefit. For birth parents, they get to see their children and know they are doing well, and the children know who their birth family is and get to have a relationship with them. I can't see how that would be a bad thing.

    But maybe Patches or another birthmom can answer: Do you feel like the child you placed is still your child? Do you feel like you are their mother? In terms of open adoption, I've heard people say things like "plenty of kids have parents, step parents, multiple sets of grandparents, etc, so it's no different than that", but I guess I'm wondering, do the children FEEL like they have two sets of parents? Or is it more like there is an extended family and they know that the BPs gave birth to them, but the BPs feel more like another relative than like a parent?

    I hope this made sense and isn't offensive to anyone. I've just been grappling with this.

     

    You bring up a good point. Yes, she is my daughter but I am not her parent.  I've had conversations with DD about this.  It is confusing for children to understand.  DD was over heard by a teacher at school telling a friend she had two moms. I had a serious talk with my DD about who I am to her and that I am not her parent.  She's played the "I wanna go live with Sherri" card a few times and asks why she can't sleep over at my house.. Amom and I have had conversations about this and how to handle it. 

     I just think it's important to be honest with the child from birth.  Your point about other 'parental roles' in the child's life doesn't (I don't feel) apply to me or our situation.  I've explained to her that I'm not her parent. I really honestly do not feel I am. I am her biological mother.

    BM to Kenzie 9/1/04 --- Married 1/22/09 --- Me 27 - DH 25 --- TTC our first since April 2010 Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers
  • image Patches08:

     She's played the "I wanna go live with Sherri" card a few times and asks why she can't sleep over at my house..

    This is exactly why it scares me. I think my heart would just break.

    Also, somebody else posted on here about some issues with open adoption and the BM. I forget what it was, but it made me worry about open adoption even more.

    Thank you for all of your replies, everyone. I really appreciate it.

    We are currently planning on adopting from Children's Aid so I think that is automatically closed. I was researching different private adoption angencies in Ontario and it seems like most of them are open adoption. It sort of freaked me out.

  • We have an open adoption and wouldn't wanted any other way.  We have been blessed with a beautiful son, but we love his other mommy and siblings.  It is important for us that our son knows how much we love him (both families).  I love sharing pictures and any little cute things with his other mommy.  We can't wait to be able to have a visit in the future.  
  • image spongebobsquarepanties:
    image Patches08:

     She's played the "I wanna go live with Sherri" card a few times and asks why she can't sleep over at my house..

    This is exactly why it scares me. I think my heart would just break.

    Also, somebody else posted on here about some issues with open adoption and the BM. I forget what it was, but it made me worry about open adoption even more.

    Thank you for all of your replies, everyone. I really appreciate it.

    We are currently planning on adopting from Children's Aid so I think that is automatically closed. I was researching different private adoption angencies in Ontario and it seems like most of them are open adoption. It sort of freaked me out.

     

    When DD said she wanted to sleep at my house to me at our last visit (parents where there but not present during this convo). I called Amom that night and told her what she said and that's when she (Amom) told me DD said about living with me.   

    She explained to DD that it hurt her feelings that she would say that but that she didn't wanted DD to see her upset for fear of giving her strings to pull, kwim? 

     I think it's all in your confidence level as a parent. What if your child makes a new friend at school and this friend has the 'cool parents' and your child blurts out that he/she wishes he lived with them.  No different. It's not going to happen.

    I don't want DD to want to live with me. I want her to be happy where she is. I know she is, she's just using me to get whatever it is that she wants from mom and dad in that moment.  Kids can try to be little instigators sometimes. 

    Open adoption can look like so many colors.  Don't be afraid of it because of some stories you heard.  Research it with an agency or sw. It's really a beautiful thing.  You never know..  maybe your BM will be awesome like me. ;-) Lol.

    Check out Amstel Life blog. Sorry I'm on my phone and can't post the link. She's a BM with an adoption story very similar to my own.  Awesome birth mom. Love her.

    BM to Kenzie 9/1/04 --- Married 1/22/09 --- Me 27 - DH 25 --- TTC our first since April 2010 Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers
  • image Patches08:

    Open adoption can look like so many colors.  Don't be afraid of it because of some stories you heard.  Research it with an agency or sw. It's really a beautiful thing.  You never know..  maybe your BM will be awesome like me. ;-) Lol.

    Check out Amstel Life blog. Sorry I'm on my phone and can't post the link. She's a BM with an adoption story very similar to my own.  Awesome birth mom. Love her.

    Thanks for your input! I can only hope that I would have a great BM. :)

    I've also made a mental note that if I use an agency, that I want one that provides services for the BM (i.e. counselling after the fact, if needed kinda thing). I

  • When we first started the adoption process, we were looking for a semi-open adoption. We were matched in January and our daughter was born in April. We have a VERY OPEN adoption! It is rare if I don't text with DD's BM each day (my phone actually just buzzed and it was a text from her!) and we see each other every couple of weeks. She confides in me and looks to me for advice and support in her life. It is an amazing relationship that I absolutely treasure. I can't imagine having any other type of relationship than what we have. She and her family feel like they are part of our family and we love them dearly.
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  • image CalinsBride:

    But maybe Patches or another birthmom can answer: Do you feel like the child you placed is still your child? Do you feel like you are their mother? In terms of open adoption, I've heard people say things like "plenty of kids have parents, step parents, multiple sets of grandparents, etc, so it's no different than that", but I guess I'm wondering, do the children FEEL like they have two sets of parents? Or is it more like there is an extended family and they know that the BPs gave birth to them, but the BPs feel more like another relative than like a parent?

    I hope this made sense and isn't offensive to anyone. I've just been grappling with this.

    Open adoption is NOT coparenting. I think that's where a lot of people have fears or trepidation, that birthparents are going to make parenting decisions and add confusion for their child. Even in very open adoptions, one set of parents is making the parenting decisions. To be blunt, this is what happens when you relinquish or terminate your parental rights. You are stating that someone else will (legally and otherwise) be the person to parent the child.

    That doesn't mean you can't have a close relationship with a birthfamily.

  • image Patches08:
    image CalinsBride:

    I understand the benefits of open adoption as far as having information about the BPs and knowing who they are, etc. I guess I stuggle a little bit with the kind of openess that Patches describes.

    On the one hand, I can definitely see the benefit. For birth parents, they get to see their children and know they are doing well, and the children know who their birth family is and get to have a relationship with them. I can't see how that would be a bad thing.

    But maybe Patches or another birthmom can answer: Do you feel like the child you placed is still your child? Do you feel like you are their mother? In terms of open adoption, I've heard people say things like "plenty of kids have parents, step parents, multiple sets of grandparents, etc, so it's no different than that", but I guess I'm wondering, do the children FEEL like they have two sets of parents? Or is it more like there is an extended family and they know that the BPs gave birth to them, but the BPs feel more like another relative than like a parent?

    I hope this made sense and isn't offensive to anyone. I've just been grappling with this.

     

    You bring up a good point. Yes, she is my daughter but I am not her parent.  I've had conversations with DD about this.  It is confusing for children to understand.  DD was over heard by a teacher at school telling a friend she had two moms. I had a serious talk with my DD about who I am to her and that I am not her parent.  She's played the "I wanna go live with Sherri" card a few times and asks why she can't sleep over at my house.. Amom and I have had conversations about this and how to handle it. 

     I just think it's important to be honest with the child from birth.  Your point about other 'parental roles' in the child's life doesn't (I don't feel) apply to me or our situation.  I've explained to her that I'm not her parent. I really honestly do not feel I am. I am her biological mother.

    Thanks so much for answering! That makes sense.

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  • image steph196:
    When we first started the adoption process, we were looking for a semi-open adoption. We were matched in January and our daughter was born in April. We have a VERY OPEN adoption! It is rare if I don't text with DD's BM each day (my phone actually just buzzed and it was a text from her!) and we see each other every couple of weeks. She confides in me and looks to me for advice and support in her life. It is an amazing relationship that I absolutely treasure. I can't imagine having any other type of relationship than what we have. She and her family feel like they are part of our family and we love them dearly.

     I can pretty much ditto this. Maybe we don't text every day, but at least multiple times a week. If I text a pic of dd out, it usually goes to my sister, my mom and bm.

    Married on 3.20.2004. It took 30 month, 2 failed adoptions and IVF for our first miracle. We have had 9 foster kids since he was born and started the domestic adoption process when he was 10 month old, we had 4 failed matches in that time. After our daughter was born we brought her home and spent 2 weeks fearing we might lose her because of complications that came up. But Praise God all went through and she is ours forever! Expecting again after IVF Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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  •  

    Last visit we had with DD's bm, she straight up said, "Aida, I am your birth mommy, that right there (pointing to me) is your real mommy!" I love that.


    Married on 3.20.2004. It took 30 month, 2 failed adoptions and IVF for our first miracle. We have had 9 foster kids since he was born and started the domestic adoption process when he was 10 month old, we had 4 failed matches in that time. After our daughter was born we brought her home and spent 2 weeks fearing we might lose her because of complications that came up. But Praise God all went through and she is ours forever! Expecting again after IVF Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker Baby Birthday Ticker Ticker
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  • Dr. L is 100% right.  Open adoption does NOT = co parenting.  I consider myself to be a positive role model in her life, not a parental figure. 

     

    The conversation I had with Amom regarding how to handle DD's comments was not a parental discussion. It was us being open and honest about our opinions (which were the same). I just wanted to clarify in case I gave a different impression.

    BM to Kenzie 9/1/04 --- Married 1/22/09 --- Me 27 - DH 25 --- TTC our first since April 2010 Lilypie Angel and Memorial tickers
  • Thanks for sharing all of your opinions, ladies! :) It's really great to have different opinions and experiences to read when you are first starting out. :)
  • Not to beat a dead horse, but another thing to consider. A situation like Patches' could happen with a closed adoption. There is often a phase that most kids go through (bio or adopted) where they have some dream world where their life is so much easier with parents who let them do what they want when they want. And adoptees can tend to go through a phase of putting their BPs on a pedestal. In an open adoption, Patches' DD's Amom can call and discuss it with her, and they discuss how to handle it. In a closed adoption, there is no BM reality to counteract whatever a child thinks of in their head.

    Just another something to consider. Adoption opens up a whole host of issues that Aparents will many times wonder if it's just normal childhood behavior, or some unresolved adoption issue playing out with their child. This is why education, research, support groups, etc. can be so important.

    Just my 2c.

  • image CalinsBride:

    I understand the benefits of open adoption as far as having information about the BPs and knowing who they are, etc. I guess I stuggle a little bit with the kind of openess that Patches describes.

    On the one hand, I can definitely see the benefit. For birth parents, they get to see their children and know they are doing well, and the children know who their birth family is and get to have a relationship with them. I can't see how that would be a bad thing.

    But maybe Patches or another birthmom can answer: Do you feel like the child you placed is still your child? Do you feel like you are their mother? In terms of open adoption, I've heard people say things like "plenty of kids have parents, step parents, multiple sets of grandparents, etc, so it's no different than that", but I guess I'm wondering, do the children FEEL like they have two sets of parents? Or is it more like there is an extended family and they know that the BPs gave birth to them, but the BPs feel more like another relative than like a parent?

    I hope this made sense and isn't offensive to anyone. I've just been grappling with this.

     

    I'm a birthmother and no, I do not feel like my birthson is my child and my husband (the birthfather) and I do not feel like we are a second set of parents to him. I love my birthson dearly and he is so special to me. I will always love him and will never forget those 9 months that I was his Mommy, but we did not and do not parent him and I am not his mom now, i'm his birthmom. I always say that I was his mom for 9 months and then at the hospital, I became his birthmom. The moment I saw his mom hold him at the hospital and fall in love with him, I completely viewed her as his mom.

    We were not there for the late night feedings, we did not take him to the Dr. and to his first day of school. We were not there to care for him when he got sick for the first time and when he first skinned his knee... the list goes on. All those things that make you a parent, I was not that for him so I will never consider myself his parent. I never offer any parental advice to his parents or do anything remotely "co-parenting". 

    We have visits with our birthson. Probably 2-3 visits a year. He is not confused as to who his parents are. I still remember years ago when he was about 3 years old and he fell down and started crying. I was closest to him, but he of course ran to his Mommy's arms. There was no confusion for him as to who Mommy was that day and I don't think there ever will be any in the future either. 

     

     

     

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