Open vs. Closed: IAC Adoption Expert Kathleen Silber Responds to the Today Show

Pleasant Hill, California (EastBayDaily) — Independent Adoption Center Associate Executive Director Kathleen Silber, MSW, ACSW, a pioneer of open adoption and nationally regarded expert on the topic, responds to commentary on the Today Show with a factual point of view.

In a recent segment of the Today Show, one audience member asked the panel of hosts – Donny Deutsch, a former advertising executive, Star Jones, an attorney, and Nancy Snyderman, a physician – whether open or closed adoption was a better choice. It was the group’s opinion that closed adoption was better.

Silber, a social worker who has advocated for change within the adoption sector since the early 1980’s, says the unanimous decision probably stems from lack of knowledge, and the fears about open adoption being a “Pandora’s box,” as Snyderman said, are misguided.

“A lot has changed in adoption over the years,” says Silber. “It’s generally accepted knowledge now that an open adoption arrangement is not only healthier for the adoptees, but for the families as well. What’s shocking about the commentary on the Today Show is actually how archaic those views are – it’s hard to believe people are still advocating something that’s known to not be good practice.”

According to Silber, author of Dear Birthmother and Children of Open Adoption, allowing ongoing contact with birthparents helps keep adoptees psychologically sound by answering any questions they may have about their history. Ultimately, she says, children are smart enough to know who their parents are, because they’re the ones who are there every day raising them.

“There is no less structure in a child’s life with open adoption,” says Silber. “It’s best to view birthparents as extended family members who visit the child maybe once or twice a year. While there’s a place in the child’s life for these family members, there’s no confusion about who ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ are.”

Open adoption overtook closed adoption as the normal practice around 20 years ago, with pioneering agencies like Lutheran Social Service in San Antonio (then under the direction of Silber), Jim Gritter’s Catholic agency in Michigan, and the nationwide Independent Adoption Center leading the movement for change. Today, 80% or more of domestic infant adoptions are open.

“Contrary to popular opinion, closed adoption is actually much more prone to failure than open,” says Silber. “Even if someone is interested in a closed adoption it’s hard to find an agency for it these days. And modern tools like social media make closed adoption a thing of the past. Pretty soon, there will be no distinction between open and closed adoption – it will only be open.”

For people thinking about adopting a baby, it’s important to move past the fears of open adoption and into the warmth of a relationship built on trust and love, says Silber. “After all, your child cannot have too many people in his life who love him, and a little extra love will only help your child build a more positive self-concept,” she points out.

More of Kathleen Silber’s response to the Today Show can be found at

For more information about open adoption, please contact IAC at (855) 210-6205 or go to

About Independent Adoption Center Independent Adoption Center (IAC) provides open adoption placement and counseling to birth and adoptive families to ensure that every child grows up feeling loved and supported. Since opening in 1982, the IAC has successfully placed over 4,000 newborns with families in the United States.


Ryan Schwab