What does open adoption mean? It is a common question, but the answer is not so simple.

Open adoption takes many different forms and means something different to nearly everyone it touches. For birth mothers and women considering adoption, open adoption means giving their baby the future they want them to have, while also remaining an important part of their child’s life and having the opportunity to watch them grow up.

In this article, learn more about open and semi-open adoption in Kansas City, as well as the many benefits it offers.

What is open adoption?

Every adoption relationship is unique, and there is no single open adoption definition. When someone uses the term “open adoption,” they may be referring to any adoption in which the birth family and adoptive family keep in touch following placement, whether it’s through pictures and letters, phone calls, emails, text messages, visits, or some combination of these.

Adoption relationships can be thought of on a sliding scale, with fully open adoption on one end and closed adoption on the other. The majority of adoptions fall somewhere in between and are considered “semi-open adoption” or “mediated adoption.” These semi-open adoption relationships make up an estimated 90 percent of adoptions today.

Semi-open and open adoption each allow you to maintain a relationship with your child and the adoptive family, but there are a few key differences separating them. To give you a better understanding of open adoption and semi-open adoption, here are some of the defining characteristics of each:

  • Open adoption: In fully open adoption, you and the adoptive family may share identifying information, such as last names, home addresses, and personal phone numbers and email addresses. You might engage in phone calls, text messages, video chats, in-person visits, and more.
  • Semi-open adoption: In many semi-open adoptions, identifiable information such as last names and addresses are kept confidential, and contact is usually mediated by your adoption professional. Kevin partners with adoption agencies like American Adoptions to provide these post-placement correspondence services. Most semi-open adoptions involve regular picture and letter updates about your child for the first 18 years of his or her life. In some semi-open adoptions, families also choose to continue communication through non-identifying email addresses or other methods.

The type of adoption relationship you choose to have with your child and the adoptive family will not only influence the contact you share post-placement, but it will also determine your interactions with the adoptive parents during your pregnancy and at the hospital when your baby is born.

You will have the opportunity to get to know potential adoptive parents prior to your baby’s birth. This is known as pre-placement contact, and it usually takes the form of a mediated conference call with your adoption professional.

In more open adoption arrangements, you may also choose to exchange emails, have additional phone calls with or without mediation, and even engage in face-to-face meetings with the adoptive family. This pre-placement contact helps you get to know the adoptive family and ensure they are the perfect parents for your child.

You will also have an opportunity to interact with the adoptive family at the hospital when your baby is born. It is up to you to decide how much interaction you want to have; you can determine when the adoptive family should arrive at the hospital, when they will meet the baby, how much time you want to spend with them, whether they will meet your other family members, and more.

Why choose open adoption?

Open adoption has become increasingly common over the years, in large part because of the many benefits it offers. Prior to the 1980s, most adoptions were closed, meaning there was no contact shared between birth mothers and adoptive families. This was detrimental to everyone involved and often left birth mothers wondering where their child was and whether he or she was happy and healthy.

Fortunately, this is no longer the case. Countless open adoption stories, open adoption facts and expert opinions all point to the undeniable benefits of maintaining a relationship with your child and the adoptive family:

  • Getting to know the family before the adoption can help reassure you of your adoption decision
  • Knowing that you can maintain a relationship with your child may help ease some of your feelings of grief and loss
  • You can help keep your child safe and healthy be providing updated family medical information to the adoptive family as needed
  • Staying in contact with your child gives you a chance to always remind them of your love and answer their adoption questions
  • You will never have to wonder how your child is doing — you will always have peace of mind that he or she is happy, healthy, and well-adjusted

While there are many reasons to consider an open or semi-open adoption, these arrangements are not always right for everyone. It is entirely up to you to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with the adoptive family before and after your baby is born. Whatever you decide, Kevin can give you the resources and support you need to find a family who is looking for the same type of relationship and help you manage your relationship with them throughout the adoption process.

To learn more about open adoption in Kansas and Missouri, contact Kevin Kenney for a free, no-obligation consultation.