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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Open Adoption Facts: Then and Now

How Open Adoption Has Evolved

Just as American society has evolved from generation to generation, so too has adoption. Today, the facts are that open adoptions are much more common and more beneficial to all parties involved than closed adoptions.

In the early 1930s, it was believed that adoption should be a discreet process and that secrecy should be maintained to protect not just the adoptive family, but also the birth parents. American society believed that a relationship between the child, the adoptive family and the birth parents would cause undue stress and emotion for everyone involved. These assumptions, presumed to be adoption facts, were furthered by the societal view that being an unwed mother was shameful. As a result many women quietly snuck away to maternity homes and placed their babies for adoption.

However, by the early 1980s, many came to realize that this secrecy, guilt and shame only led to resentment and depression. Not only did adopted children not have a sense of where they came from, but their adoptive parents lacked the resources to help them and couldn’t even access their adoption records. And women who had placed their babies for adoption were forced to live their lives hiding their adoption story and never knowing what happened to them. Everyone involved in adoption knew it was time for change.

As a result, adoption is very different today, which you will see in the following facts about open adoption:

Open Adoption Fact #1: Adopted Children Know Their Adoption Stories

Today, adoption professionals encourage and teach their adoptive families how to properly raise an adopted child by normalizing his or her adoption story. In past adoptions this news was disclosed much later in life, but now the child grows up knowing it to not only be true, but something to be proud of.

Open Adoption Fact #2: You Choose the Adoptive Family

Instead of handing over their babies to an adoption agency and an unknown adoptive family, women today formulate their own adoption plans, tailored to their own wants and desires for their child. The most important of these choices is that women are fully in charge of choosing the adoptive family to adopt their baby. If you choose American Adoptions to complete your adoption, your Adoption Specialist will work with you closely to help you find the right family.

Open Adoption Fact #3: You May Meet the Adoptive Family Before the Adoption

Most adoptive families today are interested in open adoption levels of contact, meaning they are excited to get to know you through a phone call or an in-person meeting and interact with you at the hospital. And many families are interested in even more contact not just before but also after the birth of your child.

Open Adoption Fact #4: You May Remain Involved in Your Child’s Life

In the past, when a woman gave her child up for adoption, it was rare that she would ever hear from him or her again. That has all drastically changed. Not only can you receive pictures and letters of your child throughout his or her childhood, but you can also have a personal relationship with your child if you so choose. There are many families who want you to remain a part of your child’s life as much as you do – it’s just a matter of choosing a family who is ready to share this relationship with you.


Every agency is different, but at American Adoptions, we highly encourage and even require certain levels of openness from all of our adoptive families. However, some women are more comfortable with a closed adoption, and that is entirely possible as well with American Adoptions. We will work with you to understand that facts about open adoption and what will work best for you.

Contact us today at 1-800-ADOPTION or contact us today for free adoption information.  

Information available through these links is the sole property of the companies and organizations listed therein. America Adoptions, Inc. provides this information as a courtesy and is in no way responsible for its content or accuracy.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is American Adoptions the right adoption agency choice for many birth mothers?

American Adoptions is one of the largest licensed adoption agencies in the United States. Each year, we work with thousands of women who are facing an unplanned pregnancy and offer assistance to these women. Our large, caring staff is able to assist you seven days a week and provide you with one-on-one counseling about your pregnancy and available options.

You should choose an adoption agency where you feel completely comfortable with their services and staff. With American Adoptions, you will work with an Adoption Specialist who is on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Adoption Specialist will be your advocate and will provide support and guidance as you create an adoption plan that is right for you.

How will the family tell my child about me and the adoption when my child is older?

Each family has their own style of introducing adoption to the child. When you are matched with an adoptive family, you can ask them this question. If you would like your Adoption Specialist to discuss it for you, just let her know. He or she can share your wishes or provide good ideas from other adoptive families.

You will also be able to share what you want your baby to know about you. You can complete a keepsake booklet to share hobbies, stories, photos of you and your family and a letter to your baby. The adoptive family can provide this to your child as he or she grows older. Be as creative as you like! Some birth mothers have even knitted a special blanket as a gift to their baby or given a similar symbol of their love.

The father of your baby can fill out the birth father's keepsake booklet or write a letter too. You may have other family members who would also like to share photos or a letter to the baby. This is your opportunity to pass on your and your family's love and to share your personality, history and reasons for choosing adoption. The adoptive family will treasure whatever information you provide and will share it with the baby at an appropriate age. In most adoptive homes, the word adoption is in the child's vocabulary early on, and adoption is celebrated in their lives.

Additional Resources

Teen Pregnancy - Information for Young Women

While not every woman who chooses adoption is a young mother, many are. Through adoption, many young women have found an ability to give their babies the best life possible, while finding the opportunity to realize their own dreams, as well. Call American Adoptions today at 1-800-ADOPTION.

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Adoption Glossary

Do adoption terms and phrases leave you feeling confused? Learn the meaning to key adoption words and phrases with our comprehensive adoption glossary.

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