Types of Adoption

Adoptive Family 3There are several different types of adoption including different degrees of openness as well as who you work with to assist in your adoption.

Semi-Open Adoption

Most adoptions fall under this level of openness. The communication between the birthparents and the adoptive family is done through the agency. No identifying information (last names, addresses, phone numbers, etc.) is exchanged. The birthparents will receive pictures and updates on how the child is doing through the agency as well as the birthparents can forward letters, pictures, cards or gifts through the agency to the child and family. The birthparents can choose the family as well as meet the family if they would like. Any meetings or visits with the birthparents and the adoptive parents would be with the presence of the agency.

Open Adoption

Identifying information is exchanged, such as last names, locations of residence. This is always the case in independent adoptions, where the parties work through an attorney. In North Carolina, openness is only allowed in agency adoptions when both parties sign a specific state form in front of a notary during a meeting. Openness does not necessarily mean that a birthparent is a visible, ongoing presence in the life of an adopted child. Many birthparents desire openness so that they can be more easily found if the child desires to contact them in the future. The amount of contact (phone, face-to-face, email, letters, etc) between parties in an open adoption should be agreed upon before any legal documents are signed.*

Closed Adoption

The birthmother does not choose the family and does not wish to receive pictures or an update on how the child is doing. There is no communication between the birthparents and the adoptive family as well as no information is exchanged between the two parties.

Agency Adoption

This type of adoption occurs when an adoptive family uses a licensed adoption agency to receive an adoptive placement as well as the birthparents release legal custody to the agency. Physical custody is given to the prospective adoptive family, and legal custody is given at the time of finalization. Both birthparents and adoptive parents receive counseling and support services through the agency.

Independent Adoption

Placement through a facilitator or attorney, where legal custody is given directly to the adoptive parents; all are open adoptions. The attorney or facilitator will provide the legal documentation for the adoption. Typically the birthparents and adoptive parents only receive legal counseling and not supportive counseling.


*Statement About Open Adoption: Open adoption is a term that has stimulated a variety of different emotions and ideas from those involved in adoption and our culture. There have been many myths and misconceptions associated with openness in adoption, which has been exacerbated by negative images in the media.
From a legal viewpoint, open adoption occurs when both adoptive parents and birthparents mutually agree to exchange identifying information about the other, such as last names, phone numbers, or addresses. Open adoption has always been a part of independent adoptions (through an attorney or facilitator). Until November 2001, North Carolina law did not allow licensed child-placing agencies to offer open adoption to clients. That law has changed, allowing private agencies the ability to offer the choice of openness to those they serve. For this to occur, both parties must sign a form called a “Consent to Release of Identifying Information (DSS-5218)” in the presence of a notary.
Amazing Grace Adoptions has always offered semi-open adoptions, in that first names and other non-identifying information could be exchanged. We continue to offer that option to our birthparents and adoptive families. We would encourage adoptive families to pray through each decision in the adoption process, including the amount of openness with which they are comfortable. Not all families are called to openness, but it can be an opportunity for the Lord to use an adoptive family to show His infinite love and grace to a birthmother or those around her.