Open or Closed Adoption: Advantages of Each Type of Adoption

Adoption, in and of itself, is a complicated and confusing process. Adding to the complexity, there are several different types of adoption. While open adoption and closed (or confidential) adoption are at either end of the spectrum, mediated or "semi-open" adoptions also are an option. The type of adoption you choose will depend on the laws of your state, your needs, the needs of the birth parent, and other factors.

In order to decide whether an open or closed adoption, or some other form of adoption, is the best method for you, you'll want to understand these degrees of "openness" in adoption processes. Read on to learn about the benefits associated with confidential (closed) adoptions, open adoptions, and mediated adoptions.

The Main Types of Adoption

  • Confidential (Closed) 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.

Open Adoption, Closed Adoption, and Mediated Adoption: Advantages of Each

 

Closed Adoption Advantages

Mediated (Semi-Open) Adoption Advantages

Open Adoption Advantages

Birth Parents
  • Provides real choice for birth parents when compared to open adoption.
  • Privacy.
  • Some feel this provides a sense of closure and ability to move on with life.
  • Allows for some information transfer between birth and adoptive parents (and perhaps the child).
  • Some privacy.

 

  • Increased ability to deal with grief and loss.
  • Comfort in knowing child's well-being.
  • Sense of control over decision-making in placement.
  • Potential for more fully defined role in child's life.
  • Potential to develop a healthy relationship with the child as he or she grows.
  • Less pain and guilt about the decision.
  • May make the decision to place for adoption easier (compared to a contested termination of parental rights trial).
Adoptive Parents
  • No need to physically share the child with birth parents.
  • No danger of birth parent interference or co-parenting.
  • Greater sense of control over process.
  • Roles may be more clearly defined than in either confidential or open options.
  • Increased sense of entitlement compared to confidential adoptions.
  • Enhanced ability to answer child's questions about his or her history.

 

  • Increased sense of having the "right" to parent and increased ability for confident parenting.
  • Potential for authentic relationship with the birth family.
  • More understanding of children's history.
  • Increased empathy for birth parents.
  • Less fear of birth parents reclaiming child because they know the parent and their wishes.
  • Delight of being "chosen" as a parent.

 

Adopted Persons
  • Protection from unstable or emotionally disturbed birth parents.

Only applicable if the relationship is "shared" with the adopted child:

  • Direct access to birth parents and history.
  • Need to search is eliminated.
  • Identity questions are answered (Who do I look like? Why was I placed?).
  • Eases feelings of abandonment.
  • Lessening of fantasies: birth parents are "real."
  • Increased circle of supportive adults.
  • Increased attachment to adoptive family (especially if the birth parents support the placement).
  • Preservation of connections (e.g., with siblings, relatives).
  • Lessens loyalty conflicts (according to recent research).
  • Exposure to racial and ethnic heritage.
  • Ability for evolving, dynamic, and developmentally appropriate account of the adoption.

Should You Pursue an Open or Closed Adoption? An Attorney Can Help

While it's ultimately a personal decision that will depend on your specific situation, a legal professional will be able to help you understand the advantages (and disadvantages) of open adoption, closed adoption, and options in-between for your specific situation. Consider speaking with an experienced adoption attorney near you to learn more.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified attorney specializing in adoptions.

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