Open Vs Closed Adoptions in Virginia

By: John Whitbeck

[7.13.2020] Historically, most adoptions were closed. With a closed adoption, it means there is no contact at all between the birth parents and the child once the adoption is finalized. In some cases, there may not be any contact before the adoption as well. Recently, there has been a shift in trends with some people preferring open adoptions where all parties can remain in contact.

Deciding on whether to have an open or closed adoption is a personal decision. You should speak with an adoption attorney to determine what is the best type of adoption for your situation.

Characteristics of Open and Closed Adoptions

If you’re considering an open adoption, they generally include characteristics like:

  • Exchanging Information: When there is a match between a birth mother and the adoptive family, they can trade identifying information like full names, personal contact information, and anything else that will help them stay in contact.
  • Contact Pre-Placement: Prior to a baby being born, adoptive parents and the birth mother may have contact. This can be through emails, phone conversations, and there is usually at least one in-person visit where the adoptive parents travel to where the birth mother is.
  • Contact Agreements Post-Placement: As the relationship progresses, the birth mother and adoptive parents can make a decision on how often they will communicate and what type of relationship the birth mother will have with her child once he or she is adopted.

Closed adoptions are typically known as a confidential adoption and include characteristics like:

  • There is Little to No Identifying Information Shared: In some closed adoptions, there may be a brief conversation between the adoptive parents and birth mother, but they do not share any type of identifying information.
  • Privacy Protection: Any request for exchange of information or communication regarding items like medical records will be handled by an adoption specialist. This ensures that both sides’ personal information remains confidential.
  • No Contact Once Child is Born: Once the child is born, there is no communication or visits. There will not be an exchange of photos or correspondence. In select cases, some adoption agencies may hold on to any photos or letters sent by the adoptive parents in case the birth mother wants to access this information later on.

Considerations with Open Adoptions

When choosing whether to have an open adoption, it’s important to consider the potential pros and cons. With open adoptions, open communication can be good for the adopted child who could contact his or her birth mother when they want. In some cases, the adoptive parents and birth mothers develop a relationship over time and become like extended family members.

For birth parents, it can ease concerns on whether they chose the right adoptive family or wonder how their child is doing. Getting to know their child is a definite perk and can ease the stress and anxiety of not knowing how their child is growing up, how they look, etc.

Contact an Adoption Attorney

If you are considering adoption, contact the team of family law attorneys at Whitbeck Bennett by calling 800-516-3964 or email clientservices@wblaws.com to learn how our team can help.

WhitbeckBennett provides social-distancing in-person consultations, private consultations by video conference at our office, or telephone/video consultations anywhere you may be located. We also currently offer a Virtual Consultation Room.

Related: Family Law; Adoption