There are two distinct categories of adoption: open and closed. Closed adoptions don’t include contact between adoptive families and birth parents. Open adoptions, on the other hand, allow for adoptive families and birth parents to have contact. Agencies will give both adoptive and birth parents the choice of which type of adoption they would feel comfortable with.
Traditionally, semi-open or mediated adoptions were considered to be a separate category of adoption. However, today we simply refer to these kinds of adoptions under the umbrella of open adoptions, with limited contact between the birth parents and adoptive families. The term “semi-open adoption” is no longer used.
There are different degrees of “openness” when it comes to open adoptions. For example, some open adoptions allow the birth parents to have contact with their child and others consist of just pictures and updates on the child. Both parties will have to agree and discuss their expectations when it comes to how they would like to proceed with an open adoption.
Open adoptions are increasingly common. In 2008, a survey showed that 95% of adoptions were open to some degree. The popularity of open adoptions makes it an important method to consider when you are looking into the possibility of adding to your family via adoption.
The Benefits of Open Adoption
There are several benefits to open adoptions. In addition to making the process of adoption a more intimate experience between birth and adoptive parents, open adoptions help to remove a lot of the ambiguity that comes with adoption.
A common feature of adoption is unknown information about the child and where they come from. Basic information such as health history and ancestry can be difficult, if not impossible, to acquire. More often than not, this becomes an issue in the future and can be further complicated when undisclosed health information needs to be addressed. Genetic predisposition for certain diseases can be found out through testing, but it is much simpler to have the information outright. Open adoptions allow adoptive parents to have access to the information through the birth parent.
Telling a child that they are adopted can be difficult. It can cause the child to feel a sense of loss and uncertainty. Open adoptions can help the child to work through and possibly eliminate these feelings. When a child has information about their birth parents, it allows them to fill in any blanks that they may have. There will not be a need to search for information regarding their birth parents, as the information will already be there.
For birth parents, the decision to place their child for adoption can be a heavy one filled with uncertainty. Birth parents want the best for their child and not knowing what family will raise their child can be a frightening reality for birth parents who choose a closed adoption. Open adoptions allow birth parents to have a say in what family their child will grow up with. Birth parents can find peace of mind when they are matched with a family that they are confident will be an excellent fit for their child.
The Drawbacks to Open Adoption
While open adoptions allow adoptive families and birth families to keep in contact and have numerous benefits, they are not without some drawbacks. Open adoptions can cause a heavy emotional toll on everyone involved.
It can be difficult for adoptive families and birth parents to occupy the same role. An open adoption that allows contact between birth parents and the adoptee can result in confusion for the child when it comes to authority and what to expect from each parent. This is especially common in younger children; it can be difficult for the children to understand the different roles each parent plays in their lives.
There is also the problem of setting up boundaries. Adoptive parents and birth parents will have to clearly define their expectations when it comes to the birth parents’ role in the child’s life. Limited or full contact with the child can be difficult to navigate. Knowing where to draw the line is important and requires open and honest communication between all parties involved.
One of the biggest drawbacks to open adoption is the possibility that the relationship will not work out. There is the expectation that once the birth parent decides to be a part of the child’s life that choice will not change. Birth parents can often struggle with their own problems (some of which may have caused them to place the child for adoption in the first place) and therefore, lack the consistency to maintain a role in the child’s life. This can be difficult for everyone involved. The child may feel that they have been abandoned by their birth parent(s) and ask hard to answer questions. It is imperative that all parties involved consider the emotions of the child and factor in this possibility.
The process of adoption can be a difficult one. There will certainly be positives and negatives involved in the decision to go forward with an open adoption. While open adoptions have awesome benefits, it can be difficult to factor in some of the possible drawbacks. The most important thing to consider when making the decision of whether to proceed with an open adoption is what is best for you and your family.
If you are considering adoption and would like some additional information, please contact us here at Adoption Choices of Colorado. We will happily assist you in whatever way we can. You can contact us via our website, or by calling 303-670-4673 (HOPE).
About the Author
Davina grew up in the outskirts of New York City, before eventually moving to Buffalo, New York at the age of 10. Her passion for adoption comes from her own experiences of being in foster care and being an adoptee herself. She hopes to help others to understand the intricacies of adoption and encourage them to consider it as an option.
Davina is a proud Geneseo Knights alum having graduated in 2018. She has been writing for as long as she can remember and chose to pursue a degree in English with hopes of making her hobby a career. Thus far, she has enjoyed her time as an intern for Adoption Choices Inc. and looks forward to a bright future in writing. When she is not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, building websites, and making lists.
“The Pros and Cons of Open Adoption.” America Adopts, 2 January 2019, http://www.americaadopts.com/resources/the-pros-and-cons-of-open-adoption/
“Open Adoption.” Child Welfare, 2 January 2019, https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_openadoptbulletin.pdf