• In adoption, a patient places the child in the care of another person or family in a permanent, legal agreement.
  • The birth mother selects the type of adoption (open vs. closed) and may influence who will facilitate the process (agency, attorney, facilitator).
  • Social workers are a helpful resource for patients navigating adoption.
  • Prospective adoptive parents undergo an evaluative home study, which includes interviews, home visits, health evaluation, income, and references (NAICH 2004).
  • The birth mother may be given a limited period of time during which she may change her mind. After that, the courts reverse few adoptions.


Open Closed/Confidential
The birth mother may select and have contact with the adopting family (through ongoing visits, phone calls, pictures, or sometimes in a more limited manner through an intermediary). Patients may choose open adoption to be reassured and maintain contact as child grows. The birth mother and adopting parents have no contact, but do share relevant medical history. All court records are sealed. Patients may choose confidential adoption for more privacy.



  • There is no updated central database on adoption and available data are limited.
  • The proportion of infants given up for adoption has declined from 9% of those born before 1973 (the year Roe v. Wade was decided) to 1% of those born between 1996 and 2002 (Jones 2009).
  • People who have adopted are more likely to be over 30, to be men, to be ever married, to have given birth or fathered a child, and to have ever used infertility services than people who have not adopted (Jones 2009).
  • Women who have ever used infertility services are 10 times more likely to have adopted than women who have never used infertility services (Jones 2009).
  • Of U.S. infant adoptions, 59% occur through the child welfare system, 26% involve children born internationally, and 15% involve U.S.-born infants who are voluntarily placed (Arons 2010).
  • Information is limited on patients choosing to place a child for adoption, but the majority have never been married, are white, and are in their early 20s. They have higher incomes and aspire to more education than those choosing parenting (Arons 2010).


Early Abortion Training Workbook Copyright © 2016 by UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. All Rights Reserved.