Disadvantages of Each Type of Adoption

Because new relationships are formed while old relationship are coming to an end, adoption can be a highly emotional process for all of the parties involved. It's an important process that affects those involved for the rest of their lives, so it's important to do your homework before pursuing an adoption. One of the first considerations is which type of adoption, ranging from transparent to completely confidential, is best for you and your family.

Types of Adoption at a Glance

  • Confidential Adoptions: No contact between birth and adoptive families; only nonidentifying information (e.g., height, hair color, medical history, etc.) is provided through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).
  • Mediated (Semi-Open) Adoptions: Nonidentifying contact is made (via cards, letters, pictures) through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).
  • Open Adoptions: Direct interaction between birth and adoptive families. Identities are known.

Disadvantages of Each Type of Adoption

Below is a comparison of the various disadvantages of the main types of adoption. To get a better sense of which type is best for you, you may also want to review FindLaw's summary of the advantages of each type of adoption.

  Confidential Adoptions Mediated (Semi-Open) Adoptions Open Adoptions
Birth Parents
  • Less grief resolution due to lack of information about the child's well-being.
  • May encourage denial of fact that child was born and placed with another family.
  • Loss of potential for direct relationship with adoptive family (and/or child).
  • Increased grief in the initial years, less later.
  • Loss of contact if intermediary changes or leaves (i.e., staff turnover, policy changes, or agency closings).
  • Birth mother may feel obligated to place child due to the emotional or financial support given by the prospective adoptive parents.
  • Full responsibility for setting relationship limits and boundaries.
  • Potential abuse of trust (fewer safeguards).
  • Potential disappointment if adoptive family cannot meet all expectations or needs.
  • Birth mother may feel obligated to place child due to the emotional or financial support given by the prospective adoptive parents.
Adoptive Parents
  • Allows for denial of "adopted family" or fertility status.
  • Increased fear, less empathy for birth parents.
  • No access to additional medical information about birth family.
  • Less control: agency controls information.
  • Loss of the full relationship with the birth parents.
  • Lack of ability to have questions answered immediately.
  • Potentially troubling cards, letters, or pictures.
  • Full responsibility for setting relationship limits and boundaries.
  • Potential pressure: accept openness or no child.
  • Potential difficulty with emotionally disturbed birth parents.
  • Potential for supporting both child and birth parents (emotionally).
Adopted Persons
  • Possible adolescent identity confusion (unable to compare physical and emotional traits to their birth families).
  • Limited access to information that others take for granted.
  • Potential preoccupation with adoption issues.
  • Similar to confidential adoptions, if information not shared with the adoptee.
  • Potential perception that it is unsafe to interact with birth family directly.
  • No clean break for assimilation into family, which some feel is necessary.
  • Potential feelings of rejection if contact stops.
  • Difficulty explaining the relationship to peers.
  • Potential for playing families against each other.

Get More Information About the Types of Adoption From an Attorney

If you're considering adoption, then you've likely considered the profound, lifelong implications of such an action. It's a great way to give a child a chance at a stable home, but you really need to make sure you're making the right choice for everyone involved. An experienced, local adoption attorney can help you make the right decisions while ensuring proper compliance with the various legal requirements and processes

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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