Open, Semi-Open, Closed Adoption

Types of Adoption


Open adoption is when the birth parents and the adoptive family have contact. Open adoptions allow the birth parents to remain in contact with the child and the adoptive family before, during, and after the adoption process. The extent of the contact is up to the parties involved and agreed upon during the adoption process.

In Arizona, there is no standardized definition of an open adoption. The law allows birth parents and adoptive parents to agree to a written, legally-binding contract the outlines how communication between the two families will work.

Communication is key when it comes to open adoption.
Communication may include phone calls, video calls, emails, letters, and/or in-person visits.
Often, the level of openness develops and changes throughout the adoption process and post-placement.

The advantages of an open adoption include:

  • The adoptive parents will have more information about the birth parents
  • The adoptive parents may be able to be more open with the child about his or her biological family
  • The child will be able to have contact with the birth parents later in life


Closed adoptions are when there is no contact or information shared between the birth parents and the adoptive family. Closed implies confidentiality, and adoptions done with a third party may withhold and seal information related to the birth parents and adoptive parents. When a birth parent agrees to a closed adoption, they no longer have a right to communicate with their child or the adoptive parents.

The advantages of a closed adoption include:

  • The adoptive parents are not required to allow communication with the birth parents
  • The adoptive parents may not worry about the potential intrusiveness of birth parents


Semi-open adoption in Arizona is another option that would be a good choices for a birth parent who wants to hear about her child during his or her upbringing, but does not want a direct relationship with that child. A semi-open adoption allows for a birth mother to keep her life separate from her child’s new life, and for her to have a specific level of privacy when it comes to her adoption decision.

In a semi-open adoption, an adoption agency mediates the relationship between the birth mother and the adoptive parents. A birth mother may still exchange letters and pictures, but those will be sent through the adoption agency without revealing personal information.

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