Characteristics of an Open Adoption

Mother holding hands with small child.

Adoption can be a wonderful way to start or grow your family. As you consider this possibility, you will also have to think about whether a closed or open adoption will be the best option for you and your family. "Open adoption" is a catchall phrase meaning that the families involved maintain some level of communication or contact. In most open adoptions, the degree of contact is determined by the wishes of the adoptive and birth parents. These agreements, however, are typically informal and not legally binding.

Knowing what to expect


more about how the Department of Defense's Adoption Reimbursement Program can help you cover the expense of adoption.

Here are some possible scenarios that characterize an open adoption:

  • The birth parent is sometimes involved in considering the potential adoptive parents.
  • Birth parents and adoptive parents may decide to meet before the birth.
  • Adoptive parents might attend the child's birth.
  • Communication can sometimes continue through an intermediary, such as a lawyer, after placement.
  • The adoptive parents often agree to send the birth mother periodic letters and photos describing the child's progress.
  • The birth parents — and other relatives — might maintain a relationship with the adoptive parents and become members of the child's extended family.
  • Other times, a decision is made to only share non-identifying information between birth and adoptive parents. Names and contact information can be kept private and meetings can happen in a neutral location. A third party, such as a social worker, might facilitate these meetings.

When it comes to adoption, there are many paths to welcoming your child. To learn more about open adoption and other options, you can visit The Child Welfare Information Gateway website. You can also read Military OneSource's articles on agency, identified, international and independent adoptions.


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