The least frequent form of adoption is a closed adoption. This is usually because the birth mother wants contact with the child’s new family to hear about how the child is doing, see pictures, etc. But adoptions are done every day, so here is a high level of what you should know. 

What is a Closed Adoption? 

A closed adoption is where there is little to no contact between the birth mother, the adoptive family, and the child. This was the most common form of adoption but has tapered off over time. 

Why? Because many birth mothers still want to be a part of their child’s life, even if it’s watching from afar. They may want to see pictures of the child as they grow up. They may want to know how they’re doing in school or what activities they like to do for fun. And some birth mothers want to be more involved, such as meeting with the family and knowing the child personally.

You may be asking – if there is little direct contact, how do closed adoptions work? What is the process?

The Closed Adoption Process

Four main steps are a part of the closed adoption process.

#1: Adopting family selection.

Usually, the birth mother will want to pick a great home for the child to go into. Note that “great home” is relative. Some birth mothers may wish their child to grow up with brothers and sisters, while others may want the child to be an only child. Some birth mothers may wish their kids to grow up in a religious family, especially of a particular faith. 

How does the mother find out about these families? From an agency, which also helps a lot in the next step. 

#2: Contact the family.

Once a family is selected, the adoption agency works with the pre-approved family to get things moving forward. They serve as the mediator, so everyone stays in the loop without the family and birth mother being in direct contact. 

#3: Hospital adoption plan.

This is the plan set up by the birth mother to instruct what happens on the day of the baby’s birth. For example, it will include things like who will be the first person to hold the baby. 

#4: Limiting post-placement contact.

Once the baby is born, it can still be important for the birth mother and adopting family to be in touch. For example, the birth mother may find out later in life that she has some genetic disease that may have passed onto the child. In that case, ideally, she would reach out to the agency and let them know so the information can be passed on to the child’s family. 

Pros and Cons of Closed Adoptions

For the birth mother, one benefit to a closed adoption is that they can feel closure that they’ve put their child in a good place and can move on with their lives. 

For the family, this adoption offers more privacy than a more open adoption. 

As far as downsides, there are a few to note. First, the birth mother will never really know how their child is doing in this form of adoption. Usually, they at least want to know if the child is healthy or happy, but that doesn’t happen with a closed adoption. 

The adoptive family doesn’t learn as much about the child’s family history, why the child was put up for adoption, potential health issues due to genetics, etc. Having a birth mother that is entirely absent from the child’s life may also lead to more challenging conversations. 

The child will likely wrestle with some hard questions at some point in their life. For example, they’ll ask questions like “why did my birth mother not want me?” which is challenging for the family to answer. 


If you have more questions about the basics of closed adoptions, give us a call at 714.456.9118 or send us an email. We know it’s a complex subject, so we can help you weigh your options as you consider adoption. 

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