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“What does adoption mean to a child?”

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Open Adoption Pros and Cons

What's Right for You and Your Baby?

In today’s adoptions, it is highly recommended that the adoptive family and the prospective birth parents be as open as possible with one another. But sometimes, both parties can feel uncomfortable with the idea, or they don’t know what to expect from their interactions. If you are pregnant and considering adoption, you might even be wondering if this is the best idea for you and your baby and are weighing different open adoption pros and cons.

It is always up to you to decide what type of relationship you want to have with the adoptive parents and your child. As you think about your options, here are some of the pros and cons of open adoption to consider:

Open Adoption Benefits

There’s no denying it: having an open adoption will not only do wonders for your well-being, but for your child’s as well. Some of the benefits of an open adoption include:

  • Your child will be able to understand their background and history, and can come to you to ask any questions.

  • You may have better peace of mind once you see how they’re doing.

  • Receiving pictures and letters from the adoptive family will allow you to watch your child grow and thrive in their new environment.

  • If there’s ever an emergency, you’ll be one of the first people to know the situation, and you can provide potentially life-saving medical history information.

  • By sharing your history, your child won’t have to struggle to open their adoption records, which can be difficult depending on which state they’re in.

  • Choosing an open adoption means that you’ll be able to talk to your child and even see them in person. As long as you and the adoptive family agree on the amount of contact, you can see each other as often as you would like.

Many women that go through an adoption grieve after being separated from their child. This is a completely normal experience. Having an open adoption can help you cope with the pain that you’re going through. Grieving can make you feel unsure of your adoption decision, but getting to know your child through post-placement contact can help soothe your pain.

It is up to you to determine how much openness you want in your adoption. Your adoption specialist will help you find the perfect adoptive family that is comfortable with the amount of contact that you choose before and after the placement.  So, no matter what your situation is, you’ll be able to find an adoptive family that meets your needs for an adoption.

Disadvantages of Open Adoption

While there are many benefits of open adoption, it might not be the best solution for everyone. Some women find post-placement contact with the adoptive family and their child to be a painful reminder of their adoption decision. These women may choose a closed adoption because they believe it will be easier for them to find closure and move forward after adoption, and that’s OK.

Additionally, you might decide not to choose an open adoption if you have trouble establishing boundaries with the adoptive family or if both parties are unable to adhere to their open adoption agreement.  Communication is one of the most important aspects of any open adoption. But a lack of communication or not feeling ready for the challenges that come with it can cause some open adoption problems. 

However, these problems are something that you and the adoptive family can work through with some patience and honest conversation. Remember to talk to your adoption specialist if you have any concerns about the potential cons of open adoption.

Advantages of Closed Adoption

While it is encouraged that you consider an open adoption, it is always up to you to decide what type of post-adoption relationship you want to have with the adoptive family and your child. There are some advantages of a closed adoption for some women.

  • If you don’t want to share any personal information about yourself with the adoptive family or your child, choosing a closed adoption may be the best way to protect your privacy.

  • Some birth mothers believe that choosing to have a closed adoption will allow them to close this chapter of their lives. You might choose a closed adoption if you think it will make it easier for you to heal and find closure after the adoption.

While these are advantages of a closed adoption, there are many things you should think about beforehand, just like you would with an open adoption.

  • If there is a closed adoption, can the adoptive family contact the biological mother? - Choosing a closed adoption means that the adoptive family will have a harder time getting ahold of you.  This will include contact for medical and family emergencies. Generally, it is much easier to reduce contact in an open adoption than it is to increase contact in a closed adoption, so if you think you may someday want more contact with your child, talk to your adoption specialist about options for keeping the lines of communication open. On the flip side, in the age of social media, DNA testing services and more, maintaining complete privacy is increasingly difficult. If you choose a closed adoption, your adoption specialist will respect your wishes and take every possible measure to ensure your privacy is protected. However, it’s important to be aware that your identifying information could be discovered accidentally, and it’s not uncommon for adoptees in closed adoptions to conduct searches and reach out to their birth parents later in life.

  • Can a woman that’s giving her baby up for adoption choose both open and closed adoption? - If you’re looking to share only a small amount of information about yourself, but still remain in your child’s life, there is a great option for you — a semi-open adoption. With this option, American Adoptions can help you mediate your pictures and letters agreement, contact with the adoptive family, and so much more.

  • Can my child find me later in life? – Even if you choose to have a closed adoption, your child can still search for you later on in life. Most states require that your child be at least 18 before they can request their adoption records and search for you.

It’s important to think about all of your options — as well as open adoption’s pros and cons — before you decide on a closed adoption. If you need help, our 24/7 open adoption hotline is available whenever you need to reach out.

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to contact for your adoption. It’s important to take care of yourself, and do what’s best for yourself and your family. If you would like to learn more about the open adoption process, call us anytime at our open adoption hotline, 1-800-ADOPTION, for free 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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