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Openness in Adoption: A Fact Sheet for Families

Pros of Each Type of Adoption
for the Involved Parties

  Confidential Adoptions Mediated (Semi-Open) Open Adoptions

No contact between birth and adoptive families. No identifying information is provided.

Only nonidentifying information (e.g., height, hair color, medical history, etc.) is provided through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).

Nonidentifying contact is made (via cards, letters, pictures) through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).

Direct interaction between birth and adoptive families. Identities are known.

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 true when relationship is "shared" with the adopted child
  • Genetic and birth history known.
  • Birthparents are "real" not "fantasy."
  • Positive adjustment is promoted in adoptee.
  • 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.

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