If you're considering adopting a baby or young child, you'll hear the terms "open" and "closed" adoption. Increasingly, open adoptions are becoming the norm. However, there are variations of open adoption.

What Can Open Adoption Entail?

Most adoptive parents would like to know something about the birth mother/parents, the reason the child was put up for adoption and certainly some information on the family medical history. In an open adoption, they get at least basic information. Sometimes they meet the birth mother and even have regular communication prior to the birth.

It's important that the birth mother/parents agree with the adoptive parents about how much information they will receive about their child and how much contact (if any) they will have with the child. Understandably, many adoptive parents balk at the idea of having birth mothers playing a role in the child's life. However, unless the adoption is within the family, adopted children generally don't have contact with birth parents unless and until they make the decision for themselves when they're old enough. They may share photos and emails regarding milestones in the child's life if they both agree on that.

Some People Still Choose Closed Adoption

Some adoptive and birth parents prefer a closed adoption. In these cases, little if any information is shared between birth and adoptive parents prior to adoption and none afterwards.

Depending on the situation surrounding the birth mother/parent, adoptive parents may believe that a closed adoption is in the best interests of their child. However, it's essential to remember that children who were adopted before they knew their birth parents often become curious about who they are as they get older. It's best to address that potential issue if you and the birth mother choose a closed adoption.

It's good to give some thought going into the adoption process about how much information and contact you're comfortable having with the birth mother and how much you want your child to be able to have if he or she asks. Your attorney can provide advice based on the law and his or her experience with other adoptions.

Then, as the adoption is finalized, your adoption attorney will work to ensure that the agreement reached with the birth mother is clearly and fully documented. He or she can also help if one of the parties wishes to change the agreement later.