We’ll be honest: we don’t know how an open adoption works, elsewhere? But here’s how open adoption has worked at Abrazo since we started doing it in 1994.

Abrazo’s favorite adoptions have typically been what is called “full-disclosure open adoptions.” That may sound intimidating, for some. But if you wouldn’t go into a serious relationship without exchanging your background information with someone, then why on earth would anyone expect you to place or adopt a child without the same level of honesty?

Any placing parent/s can seek out a private legal consult upon request, and this can be an important chance to ask an attorney questions. Under Texas law, there’s no legal difference between a traditional (closed) adoption or an open (compassionate) adoption. This is because in Texas, open adoption agreements are voluntary and not legally-enforceable. So if nobody can be forced to keep their promises in court, what’s the point?

It’s this: open adoption is about honesty and transparency, two traits that are essential in any healthy human relationship. This is not a joint-custody agreement, and there’s no guarantee of contact nor visitation, like an a divorce. All the decisions that get made about staying in touch must be done with the best interests of the adoptee at heart. And if differences arise, the adoptive parents are ultimately responsible for evaluating what’s right for the adopted child, 

How an Open Adoption Plan Grows (Before Placement)

“Relinquishment” is when placing parents legally surrender parental rights. “Placement” is when a baby, toddler or child goes from their first parents (or birthparent/s) to the chosen adoptive parents’ care.

But there’s a lot that goes into first introductions and building trust with each other before that. Why? Because that’s how open adoption works best: if the parents who are considering placement and the people hoping to adopt have some opportunity to get personally acquainted before a baby goes home with their new family. For expectant moms, this doesn’t just mean phone calls, texting or FaceTime or other online contacts, but through a face-to-face visit weeks or months before the due date, prior to legal surrenders being signed.

Doing a pre-placement open adoption visit gives everybody has the right to walk away from any plan they don’t feel is right for them or for the expected baby. This is because nobody can legally commit to placement before at least 48 hours after birth– and/or before the child’s original parents surrender their rights by completing the legal relinquishment process. In Texas, open adoption is a voluntary agreement based on trust between the placing parent/s and adopting parent/s. Since these plans are not legally-enforceable here, really knowing each other and putting any promises about contact in writing is essential, so both parties know what the voluntary plan entails.

How Open Adoption Works After Placement

Once birthparent/s have signed irrevocable relinquishment documents naming Abrazo as their baby’s guardian, our licensed agency can place the baby in the care of whatever approved and homestudied parents-in-waiting have been chosen. In Texas, there’s no grace period allowing birthparents to take the baby back if a baby has already been relinquished to a licensed child-placing agency. Still, adopting parents are under the supervision of the agency for 6-12 months or more, to prove that they’re able to care for their new child. At Abrazo, most of our best adoptive families understand how important it is for them and the baby they’re adopting to continue to spend time in-person with the birthparents after placement. It’s why most are happy to keep in touch with their child’s birthmother and birthfather for months and years to come.

Abrazo families often invite their child’s birthparents to come to court with them when they return to finalize the adoption (6-18 months later.) Many of Abrazo’s best adoptive families return for visits and bring the birthfamily along to Camp Abrazo in the years that follow. The healthiest AbrazoKids grow up knowing and respecting their birthparent/s just as their adoptive parents do, and that’s what makes open adoption work here. (And if an adoptee does not choose to continue an open adoption relationship with their birthfamily, for whatever reason. the birthparent/s can still draw peace of mind in knowing that was an informed choice the adoptee made for themselves.)

What About a More Private Adoption Plan?

Sometimes, there are circumstances in which a placing parent learns how open adoption works and still feels more at ease with a more traditional (or closed) adoption plan. Abrazo respects any placing parent’s need to more privacy, as long as we can proceed in a way that will still meet the needs of the child in the future. (Because after all, every adoption is supposed to be all about what’s best for each child, right?)

Does a placing parent have to choose the adoptive parents and stay in touch with them? No, but they do have to provide Abrazo with truthful information about their family/medical history, And we do ask our adoptive families to send our agency updates at least once a year, in case the placing parent ever wants to see these (if not, we’ll keep them on file just in case.)

No adoption professional can ever guarantee that an adoptee will never seek out their birthfamilies when they’re grown. The popularity of DNA testing and genealogy sites has made it important for parents who place to remember that while an unplanned pregnancy may be a HIPPA-protected piece of medical information, adoptees are human beings with needs to know their origins just like any other person. Birthparents concerned about keeping the existence of babies or children they have placed secret can always talk with Abrazo’s counselors about how and when to manage the truth in a way that honors everyone’s needs.

Need to Know More About How an Open Adoption Works?

Call 1-800-454-5683 anytime, to learn more about how placing parents plan the sort of adoption they feel is best, here. Or text HELPME to 210-860-5683 to learn more about becoming a birthparent. Abrazo’s counselors have been specializing in in adoption since 1994, so the staff here knows a thing or two about how an open adoption works, and we work well to help birthparents make the sort of adoption plans they can truly be proud of, for years to come.


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24-Hour Birthparent HelpLine
for New Placing Parents/Medical Emergencies

Placing parents calling from Texas or surrounding states:

Placing parents calling from outside Texas, please call collect:
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Mailing address:

3123 Northwest Loop 410
San Antonio, TX 78230