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What kind of contact will I have with my child after adoption?

One of the most important decisions to consider is the type and frequency of contact you want with your child and their adoptive family after the adoption happens. It’s important to remember that your feelings about this are very likely to change over time. For some this may mean that open adoption is a better choice, because it gives more options to connect in the future, versus a closed adoption where you wouldn’t be able to change your mind later. 

Some adoption professionals will only work with adoptive families who are committed to an open adoption. These families may have been asked to attend classes, read books, or watch videos about open adoption as part of their preparation to adopt. 

What are the types of contact in adoption?

An open adoption is when you have communication with — and often visits with — your child and their adoptive parents. You have each other’s contact information and can communicate directly, sharing updates and photos/videos, for example, through phone or email. The number of visits are usually decided ahead of time. 

A mediated or semi-open adoption is when you don’t have the adoptive parents’ contact information — although they may have yours — and any updates are exchanged through an adoption professional or a private website. For example, the adoptive family would send updates and photos to an adoption professional and they would pass them along to you. You would probably not be allowed to have visits with your child and their adoptive parents after the adoption.If you are allowed to have visits, they would be supervised by a professional.

A closed adoption is when there’s no exchange of identifying information between families. You don’t get updates about how your child is doing and there are no visits. Know that home DNA kits and social media have made it much easier for adopted people to find their birth families. You don’t have to have taken a DNA test yourself for someone to find you through other relatives.

What is a post-adoption contact agreement?

A post-adoption contact agreement is a written agreement that both you and the prospective adoptive parents sign, which states the type and frequency of contact between you, your child, and their adoptive family. 

It’s important to have these agreements in writing, but post-adoption contact agreements aren’t legally binding in many states. In these states the adoptive parents have all legal rights to the child and are able to change or ignore the contact agreements, or cut off contact with you if they choose. In these cases, the contact agreements are based on mutual trust.

In states where post-adoption contact agreements are legally enforceable, a legal document can be filed in court with your child’s adoption paperwork. However, even when the agreement is legally binding, it can be hard and expensive to enforce the adoptive parents legal requirement to follow it.

How will I feel after the adoption?

It’s normal to have a lot of different feelings after placing your child for adoption. Lots of people who decide on adoption believe they made the best decision they could at the time, given the information they had and the options available to them. They may feel a sense of acceptance or peace that they have done their very best to meet their child’s needs, often in difficult circumstances. 

Some people find that the sense of loss is deeper and more intense than they expected. It’s totally normal to feel grief leading up to and after the adoption is complete. You might also feel relieved. Having many different feelings is common, and your feelings might be complicated. Some birth parents experience immense grief that lasts their entire lives and sometimes gets worse with time. Other birth parents experience grief that gets easier with time or that comes up at significant times such as their child’s birthday, Mother’s or Father’s Day, or other anniversaries and holidays. There is no way to know what the experience of placing a child for adoption will be like for you. 

Read more about what it’s like to be a birth parent.

Adoption is a lifelong experience for everyone involved. Many birth parents seek support through individual counseling and in-person or online peer support groups. Some adoption agencies offer post-adoption services for birth parents, but there are also other ways to get support:

On Your Feet Foundation offers post-placement support for birth parents.

Concerned United Birthparents hosts an annual retreat and other support for birth parents.

National Association of Adoptees and Parents has a monthly, peer-led online support group for all members of birth families.

All-Options offers judgment-free support, referrals and resources.

Find out more about seeking birth parent competent counseling or therapy.