Searching For Your Birth Parents: Open vs. Closed Adoption

Every search for birth parents is unique and obtaining information, or having any information to begin with, can be determined by whether the adoption was “open” or “closed”. Don’t let this put you off however, at The Adoption Specialist we have a wealth of knowledge and experience when searching for biological families in both cases. Let’s look at the difference between open and closed adoptions and how this can affect your search.

Closed Adoptions

During previous decades, nearly all adoptions were closed, however these are much rarer since the 1980s. With a closed adoption, there is no contact before the adoption takes place and no contact between the birth parents and the adoptive families moving forward. 

This would often be the case in adoptions that involved agencies, where prospective adoptive families would add their name to a list and wait to be matched with a child by a social worker. The adoptive family would not be told anything about where the child came from or their previous circumstances leading to the adoption. Closed adoptions can still be considered if the birth family is deemed unstable or a danger for example, to protect the privacy and safety of the adoptive family.

In a closed adoption the child will generally not know who their birth parents are until they have turned 18, and in some states 21. Some adoptees are able to request their adoption records and non-identifying information – but again, this depends on the state in which the adoption took place.

As an adoptee, a closed adoption – where the files are often physically sealed – can present problems when it comes to obtaining information about familial medical conditions or allergies to medications for instance. This also extends to learning about their cultural heritage as discussed in our previous blog. Most states do have procedures in place that may allow some families to access information but this varies widely from state to state.

Open Adoptions

Nowadays, the preference in the United States is towards open adoptions. In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive families tend to meet and continue to have contact throughout the adoption, remaining in each other’s lives. How much or how little contact varies with each adoption.

Open adoptions allow for much more availability when it comes to information that the adoptee can access when the time comes. Most adoptees from an open adoption may already have details of their birth parents, contact information, medical records and answers to many of their questions. It all depends on how “open” the relationship was between the birth parents and the adoptive family. With some open adoptions, adoptive families stay in contact with the birth parents throughout the adoptee’s life, but in other cases the communication happens at the beginning of the process and then stops.

Will it Make a Difference to my Search?

Yes, it can – but it is not a reason to be concerned about. Whether you have a plethora of information about your birth parents from your adoptive family or your adoption records, or simply have a date and place, your search is absolutely possible. 

You’d be surprised how often people come to us with concerns that they don’t have enough information to start their search for their birth parents! We tell them the same thing every time – not to worry. This is because we can start our search with what might seem like a completely insignificant amount of information. We need as little as a name, date or place of birth to get started on our search – most of our clients come to us knowing little to nothing about their birth parents or past adoption but we still have our ways of reconnecting estranged families and have done so thousands of times.

Trust Our Expertise

The Adoption Specialist has become a leading provider of search and reunion services throughout the United States, Canada and Germany. As our client, you can be rest assured that your search will be entirely confidential and conducted ethically. The person that you are looking for will only be contacted with your permission, and otherwise should not know about your search. Using tried and tested methods for searching, you can expect us to exhaust all legal methods to achieve your goal.

Remember that every search is unique, and with our services we can provide you with the knowledge, support and guidance whilst conducting your search discreetly and efficiently.  Get in touch today to arrange your free consultation on (562) 438-6589 or submit a Search Request Form. For further information, guides and top tips, visit our Blog section here.

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