Open or Closed Adoption: Which Is Right for You?

Deciding to adopt a child isn’t easy, and there are many factors to consider when you make your choice. One of the most important choices is the type of adoption you will pursue – open, closed, or something in between. Each type of adoption has benefits and drawbacks, and each type can form a happy and complete family. That said, there are also important – even life-changing – differences between the types of adoption. Exploring these choices will help you make the right one for your family.

Open and Closed Adoptions

Open Adoption

One of the most common types of adoption today is an open adoption. Open adoptions allow for contact between the birth mother or birth family and the adopted child and adoptive family. Adopted children in open adoptions might grow up with regular visits from their birth mothers and a comparatively large amount of contact. The type and frequency of contact is always up to you, though. You never have to agree to an arrangement you aren’t comfortable with.

Open adoptions have several benefits for children and families, including:

  • Giving children a sense of knowledge and acceptance for what adoption means and how it affects them.
  • Helping to answer questions the child may have about their birth family.
  • Allowing for a relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents.
  • Giving the birth mother or family a sense of closure and allowing them to have contact with the child.

Closed Adoptions

When most people think of a “traditional” adoption, they’re thinking of a closed adoption. Closed adoptions, unlike open adoptions, don’t allow for any contact between the birth family and the adoptive family after the adoption is finalized. The adoption records will be sealed by a court, and neither the parents nor child will be able to unseal them except by petitioning the judge. Today closed adoptions are relatively rare, but they were very common until about 30 or 40 years ago.

Closed adoptions do have some benefits to families, but they also have a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Closed adoptions keep the family unit simple for children to understand – they have one mother and one father and that’s all.
  • Closed adoptions don’t allow for any potentially unwanted contact between the birth parents and the child.
  • Many adopted children have questions about their birth parents, and a closed adoption can make it more difficult for them to get answers.
  • If an adopted child experiences any medical problems, it could be important for the family to have access to the birth parents’ medical records. Closed adoptions make this difficult.

Semi-Open Adoptions

If you’re not sure if you’re comfortable with either a fully open or fully closed adoption, there is a third choice as well: a “semi-open” adoption. Semi-open adoptions allow for some contact between the birth and adoptive families, but the contact is usually mediated by an adoption agency instead of direct. Semi-open adoptions have become increasingly common and are now the most popular type of adoption overall.

Semi-open adoptions can have varying degrees of contact between the families just like open adoptions, but they offer the additional benefit of mediation and controlled circumstances. This has several benefits beyond those of fully open adoptions:

  • A safe, neutral meeting place ensures equal comfort for the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the child.
  • Staff members trained in adoption are always nearby to help with issues and to answer questions.
  • Any requests for contact go through the agency first, ensuring it is appropriate and won’t make anyone uncomfortable.

If you have more questions about the different types of adoption and which one is right for you, contact us today at Acorn Adoptions. We’ve helped many parents on their adoption journeys, and we’re ready to help you take your next steps as well. Call us today at (228) 493-6867 in Mississippi or (985) 626-3800 in Louisiana to learn more.

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