This story, “Our Journey To An Open Adoption,” was written by Mitch & Angela Carey, an adoptive couple sharing the personal account of their open adoption experience through Lutheran Family Service. Mitch & Angela’s account serves as a strong testimony in the discussion of an open vs. closed adoption.

To set the stage, an open adoption refers to an adoption in which the birth mother/parents have specifically chosen the family that will be adopting the child and have an opportunity for communication and a relationship with the adoptive family and child throughout the course of his or her life. A closed adoption refers to an adoption in which the adoptive family and the birth parents share little to no contact with one another. With a closed adoption, all identifying information generally remains confidential, such as last names and personal contact information. Furthermore, non-identifying information such as physical characteristics and family medical history may often remain undisclosed as well. Birth records are typically sealed and cannot be revealed without going through a court of law.

Here is the story of Mitch & Angela Carey’s journey to an open adoption…

Since we first met and knew we wanted to spend our lives together, we had always hoped to raise a family and be parents. We had been open to accepting a child into our home, no matter what the circumstances. We reached out to Lutheran Family Service in 2019 and in July 2020, we were ready to begin our home study.

We began creating our profile and making decisions that would allow us to match with expectant parents. Initially, we were hesitant to have open communication with expectant parents. It seemed scary, uncomfortable, and potentially awkward. We chose to be open to whatever the expectant parents wanted whether it was closed, semi-open, or open. Lutheran Family Service provided us with support and education on many aspects of adoption, including the benefits of an open adoption, but it still seemed so far away.

Our profile was chosen in June 2022 and we were overjoyed. This is when it really set in: while adoption would change our lives forever, it wasn’t just us who would have a life-altering change. It becomes very easy to focus on your own journey and all the emotions you feel when becoming a parent. But becoming a parent isn’t about you – it’s about the child. Ethical adoptions are child centered, with the best interests of the child being put first and foremost. We began to really dive in – reading literature and studies on adoption: resources from other adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents. We also joined online support groups for those in the adoption triad.

“The majority of research and personal feedback from those in the adoption triad all agreed – there is stronger and more positive emotional health for adoptees, and birth/adoptive parents, when the adoption is open.”

Closed adoptions were very common for many years – they were assumed to be the best option at the time. Well, now it is 2024. Times have changed. Adoption is a complicated, beautiful, emotional, and heavy process. A closed adoption does not benefit a child – it takes from them; it leaves room for doubt, guesses, and fear. The NACAC (The North American Council on Adoptable Children) gives some great guidelines in placing a child’s needs first – they recommend having a connection and access to information about a child’s birth family, ethnic and cultural heritage, along with open connections to birth family/kin who can provide a child with age-appropriate answers.

Our son was born in August 2022 and our adoption was finalized in March 2023. Initially, all communication was through his birthmother’s social worker. We sent many photos and little updates about our son’s milestones and life with our family. We knew at this point we wanted to have a more open relationship, but were still wanting to follow and respect the birthparent’s wishes. With the help of our son’s social worker, we were able to have direct communication with our son’s birth mom prior to the adoption finalization. We are committed to keeping the door open and including her in our family, however she might want to fit in. Is it as easy as it sounds? No. There are lots of emotional layers for us, still levels of ‘awkwardness’, and some communication/cultural differences that will always be there. Our son is still very young and is still unable to understand that we adopted him. But it is our dream that through his open adoption, he will be able to navigate the world as ‘adopted’ with all the answers he needs to feel confident, loved, and authentically himself.

“We thank God everyday for the chance to love our son – it is the greatest gift we could ever receive. We were naïve when we began our adoption journey, but God has given us great support and guidance and we know that an open adoption is what our son deserves.”



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