Your Family and Friends
Keeping Adoption a Secret When You’re Pregnant
From searching for anonymous adoption agencies to looking for information on laws that will protect birth parent identity, many pregnant women will go to great lengths to keep their decision to place a baby for adoption a secret. They may want to keep this secret from specific friends or family members, from the public, or even from their biological child and the adoptive parents.
Here are seven questions that pregnant women have asked about keeping adoption secret:
1. “What is a confidential adoption? Is a closed or confidential adoption the same thing?”
If you’re looking to define “confidential adoption,” the confidential adoption definition can be a little confusing
Most people consider it the same thing, yes. “Closed adoption” means that the adoptive parents (and your child) do not receive any information that identifies you. They will receive medical information that is important for your child’s future, and some basic details. Otherwise, they will not know who you are.
However, even in a confidential adoption, they may be able to receive that identifying information in the future, or they may find out on their own with some detective work. We’ll talk more about that below.
Some people consider confidential adoption to mean that their information remains confidential from the public, or from their friends and family. All adoption agencies keep this information confidential from everyone except for the adoptive family, the birth parents, and any other necessary adoption professionals, no matter if you choose an open or closed adoption.
In either case, adoption records are never available to the public, so your friends, family, employers or other people won’t know about your adoption unless you tell them yourself.
2. “Are there adoption confidentiality laws?”
There are laws that protect the privacy of birth parents, yes. Those laws will vary by state, and we recommend that you familiarize yourself with your state’s laws regarding confidential adoption records.
If you choose to have a closed adoption, some states seal that information until your biological child turns a certain age. At that point, the child may be able to request some or all of that information, like their original birth certificate. Other states permanently seal that information, so your biological child may not be able to request any identifying information about you.
However, adoption laws are constantly changing. There is no guarantee that the laws in your state won’t change and allow your biological child to unseal their own adoption records in the future. You should prepare for this by including information about whether or not you wish to be contacted in the future by your child in the event that they’re able to view their adoption records.
An adoption professional will be able to answer any questions you may have about this.
3. “Can I have a secret adoption, so certain friends or family members don’t find out?”
You never have to tell anyone about your adoption if you don’t want to. This is a very personal decision, so it’s understandable that you might not want everyone to know about it.
However, it’s recommended that you tell at least a few close friends or family members about your adoption decision, because you’ll need their emotional support during this difficult time. A pregnancy and adoption is hard to fully hide from everyone. While you might be able to avoid telling a few certain people in your life, there’s always the chance that someone will find out.
4. “Can you anonymously put a baby up for adoption?”
Not really. You’re going to have to provide the adoption agency with a lot of personal information, including:
- Your name
- Your medical history
- Social history
- Your contact information
- As much information about the baby’s father as you can provide
- And more
Why is all that information necessary? For one, as much of it as possible will be passed on to the adoptive parents, and ultimately, your child. This information could one day save your child’s life, or even the lives of their children or grandchildren.
Additionally, your adoption agency will need this information to help you obtain the medical, financial and legal help you need throughout the adoption process. Remember: the adoption agency will never share your personal information with anyone. And, at your request, they won’t share any identifying information with the adoptive family; only information that may help your child, like (redacted) medical records.
5. “Are there adoption agencies that help you give a child up for adoption and hide your pregnancy?”
Sort of. All adoption agencies will help you place your child for adoption, and help you to create an adoption plan that you’re comfortable with. And yes, there are also adoption agencies that can help you find new housing if necessary.
By moving, you could potentially avoid running into the people in your life whom you wish to avoid seeing. That way, they may never find out about your pregnancy, and you don’t have to tell them about your adoption if you don’t want to.
However, pregnancy is a tough thing to hide from everyone for nine months, especially once you’re visibly pregnant! There’s never a guarantee that someone in your life won’t find out, even if you do relocate with the help of an adoption agency.
6. “Can biological parents stay anonymous in adoption processes?”
With some agencies, they can remain anonymous to the adoptive family and to their child (for now), if they choose to, yes.
However, there is no such thing as an anonymous adoption agency. Meaning, you’ll have to give the adoption agency information about yourself. This information will not be shared with the adoptive family, your child, or the public. The information you provide can be edited to remove your identifying information (your name, contact information, etc.) so that only relevant details like your health history are available to the adoptive family. But, even then, there is no guarantee that your personal information won’t be inadvertently revealed by a third party, like hospital staff, during the intimate nature of the adoption process. You should always talk to your adoption professional for more information on their policy about keeping your identifying information protected.
7. “Is it harmful to keep adoption a secret?”
To be very clear and honest, yes. Keeping adoption a secret is never recommended unless:
- Your life would be in danger if certain people found out
- The life of your baby or your older children would be endangered
- You risk losing your home or financial security if certain people found out
Here’s why “anonymous” adoption can be harmful:
- It can be harmful to your own emotional wellbeing to keep this secret. You wouldn’t have your friends and family to support you, you risk having to keep this secret in all your future relationships, and the emotional toll that keeping such a big secret would have on you could be devastating over the years.
- There is always a chance that people will find out. And if they do, you would be on the hook for keeping that secret from them.
- It’s emotionally harmful to your child. When keeping adoption secret from your biological child, they will never have answers to their questions, like, “Why did she place me for adoption?” Closed adoptions have been shown to harm the mental and emotional health of adopted children, whereas open adoption has been shown to benefit these children.
- Your child may need access to detailed medical information in the future. This information could be life-saving for them and for their own children, especially if they later learn that they have a genetically inherited health issue.
Secretive adoption is a thing of the past, for a lot of important reasons. Today, 9 out of 10 adoptions are open or semi-open. This means that the adoptive family and the birth family are able to contact each other now and in the future.
An open adoption does not mean that you will be co-parenting alongside the adoptive family. It simply means that you have the option to keep in touch with one another to whatever extent you feel comfortable. Your child will be able to reach out if they have questions, but otherwise, no one in your life has to know about the adoption if you don’t want to tell them.
In any open adoption, the adoptive parents (and agency) keep your information strictly confidential from anyone outside of yourself, themselves and your child.
Why Keeping Adoption Secret is No Longer Realistic (or Recommended)
Back in the era when closed adoptions were the norm, the most advanced way of finding a person was through the phonebook! Now, with the development of at-home DNA testing, social media and unavoidable online footprints, there is no such thing as true anonymity.
Even if you request for your adoption to be closed and your information to be kept confidential, it’s always still possible for your child to find and contact you in the future if they choose to. Some adoptees will even employ private detectives or Adoption Search Angels to locate biological family members.
And if they do choose to search for you someday, they may accidentally “out you” to your future children, your spouse, friends and family members. If these people find out about your adoption through anyone but you, it can be devastating to your relationships.
It’s always recommended that you tell the people who are most important to you about your adoption and your biological child. Tell them in your own time and in your own way, but tell them all the same.
Most importantly, adoptees have a right to know this information. Just like you, they have the right to talk (or not tell) people in their lives about their adoption. But their lives are permanently altered by your decision. For these reasons and many, many more, birth parents are always encouraged to have some amount of openness in their adoption whenever possible.
To learn more about open adoption, start here. If you have any questions about keeping your adoption confidential from certain people in your life, contact a licensed adoption agency for information now.
Ready to get started? Contact an adoption agency now to get free information.