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Open adoptions are relatively common in the United States. They also provide the most contact between you, your child, and his or her adoptive family. How that works looks different for every birth mom, child, and family though.

At the most basic level of open adoptions, birth families and adoptive families share their personal information and have some level of contact with each other during the adoption process and beyond. But there’s a lot of room for interpretation and choices to make within these areas:

  • Personal information. This typically includes first and last names, but it can also include phone numbers personal email addresses, and more.
  • Contact. This often starts with meeting the adoptive parents before and after the birth, but usually goes beyond that. It can be extended to include regular phone calls, emails, pictures, and in-person visits throughout your child’s life.

To help you get a better picture of what this could look like for you, we’ve outlined a few key points about open adoptions, how they work, and which decisions you get to make as the birth mother.

You choose the adoptive family.

Adoption rules have changed over the years. That’s good news because, in today’s adoptions, the birth mom gets to choose the adoptive family. This is actually one of the main reasons an expecting mom chooses open adoptions. You get a say in what happens next.

Once you decide what you’re looking for in adoptive parents and the type of open adoption relationship you’d like to have with the family, we work to pair you with a family that fits your adoption plan.

You will have a chance to look through family profiles, find out what their homelife is like, see photos of them and activities they love doing, and even watch videos about their adoption journey so far.

You’ll also have a chance to ask questions and meet the adoptive family in person before you make a decision.

You choose the level of contact you’ll have.

Another reason to chose open adoption is that you also get to choose how much contact you want to have with the adoptive family and your child. Every situation is different but most, if not all, of our families believe that keeping contact with the birth parent simply means more people to give your child love.

Because open adoptions aren’t legally enforceable in Illinois, it is important you discuss your expectations and desires with the prospective adoptive family so you can create a Post-Adoption Contract Agreement. This written agreement helps outline how and when you’ll communicate with your child after the adoption is finalized.

In most cases, birth parents and adoptive families get to know each other before the child is even born. You may chat with each other through phone calls, email exchanges, or even in-person visits. After placement, it’s common for the adoptive family and the birth mom to keep in touch by:

  • Sending pictures and letters
  • Texting or calling
  • Using message apps or video calls
  • Posting to photo-sharing apps
  • Visiting in person
  • Celebrating special events together

Regardless of how much interaction you and the adoptive family chose to have, it is important to remember that open adoption does not mean you’re co-parenting. Parenting decisions are still solely made by your child’s adoptive parents.

You have the choice to make changes.

Open adoption relationships are always evolving. What may work well for you and the adoptive family in the beginning, may not be the best choice for you and your child going forward.

For example, you may start with a very open relationship, then decide to limit contact in the future. Or, you and the adoptive family may have agreed to less contact in the beginning, but then agree to a more open relationship later.

How this works all comes down to what is best for everyone involved and what you and the adoptive family are comfortable agreeing to.