What is open adoption?

There isn’t one definition of openness in adoption, it is a matter of choices.

But some key pieces involve selecting the family based on what’s important to you; meeting them in what The Cradle calls a match meeting; and, coming up with a plan to stay in contact. Your counselor will help guide and support you throughout this process.

Some may not feel ready for contact with adopting parents or an open adoption. We will inform you about how that works, but it's your choice.  We want you to know that all of our adopting parents are ready for contact from birthparents.  So if you later decide you would like to contact them, we can help you connect.

Some birth and adoptive families choose to stay in touch after placement through emails, texts or phone calls.  Others arrange for occasional visits.  And like any relationship, connections between birth and adoptive families change over time.

We believe open adoption has many benefits. It lets you:

  • Explain to your child that you love him and why you chose adoption
  • See for yourself that your child is safe and loved in the home your chose for him
  • Answer questions about you and your family
  • Give your child a clearer sense of who they are and where they come from

We know it's hard

It may be hard to see your child at first. That’s natural. Yet over time birthparents tell us how happy they are that they chose to have a relationship with the adoptive family. With an open adoption you can see for yourself how your decision has allowed your child to grow up and thrive in the family setting you chose for them.

We'll create a plan together

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to open adoption. Each plan is unique and built on trust and mutual respect. In most states, including Illinois, open adoption is not legally enforceable. Under the guidance of your Cradle counselor, you and the adoptive family will come up with a plan that works best for all. If at any time you lose touch with the family or need some help with the relationship, we can help you reconnect.

A birth mother explains her open adoption relationship today

Video Transcript

Slide: How would you describe your open adoption relationship today?

Carrie: Now we’re just like good friends. We see each other, we celebrate Carter’s “gotcha” day, we celebrate Christmas together. I am free, they have never limited me. I can text, call whenever I want to. They call, they text very impromptu. Our open adoption is very spontaneous. If they find that they have a free weekend, they’ll be like “Hey, do you guys want to do a show? You want to go out to eat?” It’s very open in the sense of there is no real structure to it. But for me, it’s a respect of boundaries. I respect that they have their own family and their own lives. They also respect that I have  my own family and my own life. What it came down to was not being upset if they were like “Hey do you want to get together?” and she says ‘no’ or I say ‘no,’ it’s not a malicious thing. It’s just life, it’s the way it works like with any relationship.

And I think, while I know Carter knows that he’s adopted, he’s three and a half. He doesn’t understand what that means. We’ve sat down and we’ve talked about it, and I told them that I will follow your lead completely and totally. Whatever you guys are comfortable with is what I’ll do. But he’s still too little to really understand the concept of it. And they want him to know that’s how they got him. And it’s a very loving thing and they don’t want him to have surprises or negative emotions attached to it.