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If you are ready to consider adoption for your baby but are struggling to understand your options, an attorney can help you decide whether an open or closed adoption would be best for you.

What Is the Difference Between Open and Closed Adoption?

When deciding whether to give your child up for adoption, understanding the differences between an open vs. closed adoption may affect your ultimate decision.

In closed adoptions, your information is kept private, and there is usually no contact between you and the adoptive family. These types of adoptions used to be more common, which resulted in adopted children struggling to understand their identity. Only when the child turned 18 could they petition to obtain an original copy of their birth certificate, which includes information concerning their biological parents. Although closed adoptions are still an option, open adoptions are now more common and customizable.

If you are struggling with the notion of separating from your baby, open adoption may be the right choice for you. In most open adoptions, birth parents can choose to stay in touch with their child and the adoptive family. Open adoption allows the birth mother (or parents) to stay connected to their child. Open communication is encouraged, and you control what you want your relationship to look like. For example, you may wish to receive occasional updates from the adoptive family or have in-person visits every year. Some other means of communication that can be used in an open adoption include texts, pictures, videos, and video or voice calls.

There are no set rules or guidelines concerning how much interaction you can (or should) have in an open adoption. Instead, you decide the level of contact you desire for your unique circumstances.

What Are the Benefits of Open vs. Closed Adoption?

From maintaining an ongoing connection with your child and knowing they are growing up in a loving home to providing you the peace of mind knowing you made the right choice, there are many benefits of open adoption. For your child, an open adoption allows them to better understand their story and enjoy the love and support they need from their birth and adoptive families. In addition, the adopted child will:

  • Have access to necessary family medical history
  • Understand their family history and background
  • Have the opportunity to discuss why you chose adoption
  • Develop meaningful relationships with their adoptive and birth families

For some birth families, a closed adoption is best for their circumstances. Privacy is the defining difference between open and closed adoptions, and sometimes, birth parents want or need that privacy. Once the adoption is finalized, the birth parents have no contact with their child or the adoptive parents. As the birth parents, you are in control of this decision.

Is an Open or Closed Adoption Best for Me?

Choosing to give your child up for adoption is an incredibly personal decision. When considering whether an open or closed adoption is right for you, you may wish to seek counseling from an adoption agency or an attorney about your legal rights and options.

If you choose an open adoption, you do not have to have direct contact with the adoptive family right away. You may choose to take time to heal and process the birth and decision to move forward with the adoption. An open adoption allows for this flexibility. Only you can decide what is best for you, but an experienced adoption attorney can help counsel you as you consider your options.

Do I Pay Child Support in an Open or Closed Adoption?

Even if you have contact with your child through an open adoption, you do not pay child support. Whether you choose an open or closed adoption, the process terminates your parental rights and any financial obligations to the child.

What Information Is Included in an Adoption Petition?

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Iowa law sets forth the contents of an adoption petition. Among many requirements, it will include the date and place of birth of the person to be adopted and any new name requested to be given to the person to be adopted. Rest assured, your attorney will assist in all aspects of the adoption, including preparing or reviewing the petition.

Contact an Iowa Family Law Attorney Today

The family law attorneys at Arenson Law Group, PC are ready to answer your questions about the adoption process in Iowa. We offer our clients the legal services they need coupled with the compassion they deserve during a challenging and emotional time in their lives. Contact us today at (319) 363-8199 for a confidential case consultation to learn more about your options for adoption.

Written by James H. Arenson

Last Updated : July 8, 2024