The term closed adoption is most often used in relation to post-adoption contact, whereas the term sealed records is related to the access of legal documentation surrounding the birth and placement of the adopted child once the adoption has become final. It is entirely possible to have a closed adoption and unsealed records or an open adoption with sealed records. The two practices are not mutually exclusive.
In closed adoption, the adoption professionals involved will usually choose the adopting parents for the child. This is generally true regardless of whether the adoption is domestic, foster care or international. Also, depending on the state you live in and the associated laws, post-adoption contact agreements may or may not be legally binding, regardless of whether the adoption is open or closed. It is important when researching adoption, as either an expectant parent considering placement or a potential adoptive parent considering adoption, that you become familiar with the laws and statutes of your state or the state in which the child will be born. This research will help you know what to expect regarding the process itself.
It is important to remember that having a closed adoption does not guarantee that once a child reaches the age of majority in your state he or she will not seek out and reunite with their biological families or that the biological family will not seek and reunite with the child that was placed. The closed or open adoption agreements made between the parties of an adoption at the time of the child's birth only stay in force until the child reaches the legal age in which he or she can make decisions for him or herself.
Note: Our authors are dedicated to honest, engaged, informed, intelligent, and open conversation about adoption. The opinions expressed here may not reflect the views of Adoption.com.