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Open and Closed Adoptions in Missouri: What’s Right for You?

Curious about open adoption? Missouri has a number of professionals who can help you find a family who is eager to share the same type of relationship with you. But before you search for that perfect family, take some time to learn what open adoption is (and isn’t), and understand why openness is preferred in modern adoptions. Below are seven of the most frequently asked questions about open adoptions in Missouri from women who are considering placing their baby in an open adoption:

1. “What is an open adoption?”

Choosing an open adoption in Missouri allows birth and adoptive families (including the adoptee) the ability to remain in touch after the adoption is complete. There are varying degrees of openness in adoption and many different types of contact. The amount of openness and contact you wish to share in your adoption is up to you, as the prospective birth parent. Having an open adoption gives adoptees the ability to contact their biological family members, should they ever need or want to. Adoptees’ lives may be saved by being able to ask questions about the family’s medical history, and they may feel more fulfilled by being able to learn about their own biological heritage. This valuable knowledge and connection can be passed on to their own children. As a birth parent, choosing an open adoption in Missouri allows you to keep in touch with your child and the adoptive family to whatever degree you feel comfortable with. For many birth parents, the ability to watch their child grow up happy and loved with their family is a source of joy and relief. For these reasons and more, most adoption professionals in Missouri and throughout the U.S. encourage, and primarily complete, open or semi-open adoptions. In fact, 95% of today’s adoptions are open.

2. “What is a closed adoption?”

Choosing a closed adoption in Missouri means that the birth family and adoptive family (including the adoptee) have no contact after the adoption is complete. In some closed adoptions, the birth and adoptive families will never meet prior to the adoption, either. Throughout the U.S., including Missouri, closed adoptions used to be the norm. It was once believed that secrecy was the best policy. However, research has shown that fully closed adoptions are detrimental to those involved, but primarily the adoptee. For some pregnant women considering Missouri adoption, closed relationships might seem like a “clean break” after a difficult and painful situation. However, studies show that having more openness in the adoption usually helps the birth parent to emotionally heal better than a completely closed adoption. There are certainly some situations where a closed adoption may be necessary for the safety of everyone involved. But while closed adoption is always an option for you, professionals (and birth parents) discourage it in favor of openness whenever safe and possible.

3. “How does open adoption work in Missouri?”

That simply depends on the people involved. There are no “rules” to open adoption because it’s all about personal preference. As a result, no two open adoptions are alike. An open adoption means whatever the birth parents, adoptive parents and the adoptee want it to mean in their situation. For some, their Missouri open adoption will involve:
  • Exchanging contact information
  • Texting
  • Emailing
  • Letters
  • Sharing photos
  • Phone or video calls
  • Visits
  • Or any combination of these communication methods
Adoptive parents will commonly send photos and updates of their child to the birth family at regular intervals, so everyone can watch the child grow and stay updated about each other’s lives. Many birth and adoptive families have a very close relationship. Others prefer to only communicate every once in a while. Ultimately, it’s all about the people involved and the type of relationship you wish to have! As the birth parent, you have the ability to choose how much contact you want to exchange, as well as the frequency and type of communication.

4. “What are the open adoption pros and cons?”

Maybe you’re on the fence, and still deciding between open vs. closed adoption in Missouri. Below are some of the pros and cons of open adoption in Missouri, and a look at the difference between closed and open adoption. Open adoption benefits:
  • Your child will be able to understand their personal history and can come to you with questions.
  • Your child and the adoptive family will be able to talk to you if their child has any medical concerns in the future.
  • You’ll have the ability to see that your child is healthy, happy and loved, which can bring you peace of mind.
  • Your child will never have to struggle with opening adoption records or deal with a painful birth parent search — you’ll be available if they ever need or want to talk to you.
  • Placing your baby adoption won’t mean “goodbye.” As long as you and the adoptive parents agree on the amount of contact, you can choose to visit your child and their family throughout the years.
  • Studies on openness in adoption show that adoptees who have more contact with their birth parents have higher levels of satisfaction than adoptees who do not have contact with their birth family (or wish that they had more contact).
  • Most adoptive parents also want to share an open adoption, knowing that a connection with their child’s birth family is important for everyone involved.
Disadvantages of open adoption:
  • Open adoption is not co-parenting — you will no longer hold the parental role in your child’s life. While you will be able to select a family who you feel will raise your baby the way you envision, you will not be able to step in later if you dislike parenting choices they make.
  • The adoptive family may send more, or fewer, updates and photos than you wish to receive — it’ll be up to you to communicate any changing needs you have in the relationship.
  • You’ll need to trust that the adoptive family will respect your right to privacy and they will need to have the same trust the same from you.
  • Open adoption is a lifelong commitment made to your child that you will be open to communication with them.
  • Some women feel an open adoption to be a painful reminder of a difficult time, although studies find that that openness helps them to heal.

5. “Are post-adoption contact agreements legally binding in Missouri?”

Birth and adoptive families may choose to create an informal contract, which outlines the details of how and when they will communicate in the future. This is called a PACA (Post Adoption Contact Agreement). Missouri does not uphold PACAs in court. There are no specific open adoption laws in Missouri that outline how PACAs should be created, either. If you and the adoptive family wish to create a PACA, it’ll largely be up to those involved to decide what that looks like. It’s a common fear for birth parents — the adoptive family could, at any point, stop sending updates or fall out of contact. However, adoption professionals do everything within their power to stress the importance of honoring promises made in Missouri open adoptions. Your adoption professional will help you to connect with a family that is fully prepared to honor the promises made in your open adoption, with or without a PACA. Fortunately, open adoption problems are rarer than you might think. Most adoptive parents are eager to share information and communication with their child’s birth family. This is another reason why it’s important to place your child through an experienced, licensed agency — they screen and counsel adoptive parents with the intent of preserving relationships between birth and adoptive families in the years to come.

6. “Where can I find open adoption agencies near me in MO?”

There are a number of open adoption agencies in Missouri that can help you place your baby for adoption, and then continue to remain in contact with your child and his or her parents in the years to come. Contact an open adoption agency here, or reach out to one of these Missouri open adoption agencies to learn more:

7. “Where can I find closed adoption agencies in Missouri?”

There are few adoption professionals nowadays that complete fully closed adoptions, and even if they do, they cannot guarantee your anonymity due to modern technology with DNA testing and ancestry websites. However, as the prospective birth parent, you have the right to choose the amount of contact you wish to have with your child and his or her family after the adoption, so most professionals will be able to help you create an adoption plan that doesn’t involve contact. These agencies can talk to you more about choosing an open or closed adoption in Missouri: If you have more questions about open adoption vs. closed adoption in Missouri, or if you’d like to learn more about placing your baby in a private open adoption, contact an adoption professional for free information here.