What is Open Adoption?

An open adoption is one in which the birth and adoptive families have shared identifying information, and can include direct ongoing contact. Some birth and adoptive families choose to stay in touch after placement through emails, texts or phone calls.  Others arrange for occasional visits. 

Like any relationship, connections between birth and adoptive families change over time. You may not feel ready for ongoing contact, and that’s okay! We will talk with you about how it works, provide you information about open adoptions, and discuss your comfort level so you can choose what’s right for you.

If you have ongoing contact with your child’s adoptive family you will be able to:

*Share your child's birth story with them directly
*Answer any questions they have about your family, and why you chose adoption
*Receive updates about important milestones and events in your child’s life

There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to open adoption at The Cradle.

Each relationship between birth and adoptive families is unique. How it develops will be something you and your child’s adoptive family will discuss, create and build together. If you ever need help navigating the relationship, now or in the future, The Cradle is here to support you. If you feel strongly that an open adoption is not for you, that's okay too. All of our adoptive families are prepared for some level of ongoing contact, so if you change your mind later on we'll help you reconnect. In Illinois open adoption agreements are not legally enforceable. An open adoption relationship is built on trust and mutual respect. Any arrangement about ongoing contact is a good faith agreement between you and your child’s adoptive parents.


Openness can look different for each person. Listen to these women share about their experiences.

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.