We're thinking about adopting a child. We continue to hear about "open" adoption. Can you share what it is, and why we might want to consider this as an option if we adopt?

An adoption can range from completely closed (confidential) to open (fully disclosed). Prior to the child's adoption, the adoptive and birth parents mutually agree upon the level of openness — the frequency of communication, correspondence, and contact.

In a closed adoption, there is no contact between and no identifying information exchanged by the adoptive and birth parents. In a semi-open (mediated) adoption, information and contact passes through an intermediary, often an attorney, social worker, or agency caseworker. Open adoption allows for interaction between the adoptive parents (the child's legal parents) and birth parents.

Some level of openness is commonplace in U.S. domestic adoption. Research supports that adopted children, birth parents and adoptive parents benefit from some level of openness. No one level of adoption openness "fits all" — rather, the unique individuals, circumstances and factors that are part of that specific adoption impact the degree of openness.

The Child Welfare Information Gateway has resources to further help you with your decision:


Adoption Pro, Judy Miller

Judy M. Miller, MA, author of What To Expect From Your Adopted Tween, is an adoptive parent and adoption advocate living in the Midwest with her husband and four children. She is the Adoption Education Coordinator and Support Specialist for MLJ Adoptions, Inc.

Judy has appeared on MomTV's Adoption Angles and TogiNet's Adoption ~ Journey to Motherhood. Judy spoke at the Parenting Summit in March 2011 and presented at the Symposium 2011 Opening Adoption: Realities, Possibilities, and Challenges in Richmond, VA and the Crossroads of America Adoption Conference in Indianapolis, IN last fall.

Judy's essays and articles appear in adoption and parenting magazines and in A Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families (Adams Media), Pieces of Me: Who Do I Want to Be? (EMK Press), andChicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks Mom (Chicken Soup for the Soul).