Closed adoption, not to be confused with sealed records, is an adoption in which the adopting parents and the placing parents never meet and know nothing or very little about one another. With the advent of open adoption, closed adoptions have become the exception in domestic adoption rather than the rule. Most international adoptions are considered closed adoptions, though it is not uncommon for adopting parents to have some very basic information about the birth parents such as medical history, ethnicity and cultural information. Although things have started to change over the course of the last few years, children adopted from the foster care system are generally involved in closed adoptions.
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.