The Differences Between Open Adoption And Closed Adoption

Relationships between birth families and adoptive families are unique.

Shelley Skuster March 27, 2017

Relationships between birth families and adoptive families are unique. Open, closed, and semi-open adoptions are the most common types of adoption agreements between birth families, adoptees, and adoptive families. While no two adoptions are the same, there are some characteristics that set them apart from one another.

Open adoption allows for open dialogue.
1. Open adoption allows for open dialogue.

Open communication between birth families and adoptive families can mean face-to-face visits, phone calls, or even letters and photographs sent to home addresses.
The open communication sometimes begins before placement and can continue through an adoptee’s lifetime.

Research shows open adoption may strengthen family relationships.
2. Research shows open adoption may strengthen family relationships.

According to this study, maintaining an open adoption enhances the relationship between a parent and child relationship while also helping the child understand different roles of their birth and adoptive families.

Check the study out.

Closed adoption honors a desire for privacy.
3. Closed adoption honors a desire for privacy.

In a closed adoption, there is typically no communication between the birth parent(s), adoptee, and adoptive family. Minimal information is transferred between parties.
Because recent research suggests benefits to having an open adoption, closed adoptions are becoming less common.

Five percent of adoptions are closed.
4. Five percent of adoptions are closed.

While closed adoptions can be helpful for maintaining a birth family’s privacy, this study shows only five percent of US domestic infant adoptions are closed.
The remaining 95 percent have some level of openness between birth families and adoptive families.

Check out the study here.

Semi-open adoptions allow for communication to be exchanged, typically through a third party.
5. Semi-open adoptions allow for communication to be exchanged, typically through a third party.

There may not be concrete plans for future communication between the families and adoptee, but a semi-open adoption allows the adoptive family to send updates to their child’s birth family via a third party.

Often times, no return communication is expected.

Nearly half of US domestic infant adoptions are semi-open.
6. Nearly half of US domestic infant adoptions are semi-open.

This study found 40% of adoptions are semi-open which means birth families, adoptees and adoptive families have mediated contact, usually through an agency or attorney.
Semi-open adoptions typically include access to important social and medical history for the adoptee.

Check out the study here.

Additional information is available.
7. Additional information is available.

author image

Shelley Skuster

Shelley is a former award-winning television journalist who traded in suit coats and red lipstick for a messy bun and yoga pants. She's a freelance writer who stays at home with her three daughters who are all ((gasp)) under the age of three and came to her via adoption and birth. She's the woman behind the blog Shelley Writes, and she can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.


Want to contact an adoption professional?

Love this? Want more?

Claim Your FREE Adoption Summit Ticket!


The #1 adoption website is hosting the largest, FREE virtual adoption summit. Come listen to 50+ adoption experts share their knowledge and insights.

Members of the adoption community are invited to watch the virtual summit for FREE on September 23-27, 2019, or for a small fee, you can purchase an All-Access Pass to get access to the summit videos for 12 months along with a variety of other benefits.

Get Your Free Ticket


Host: ws02.elevati.net