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Open Adoption, Semi-Open Adoption, and Closed Adoption: Understanding the Three Types of Adoption

Open, Semi-open, and Closed: Understanding the Three Types of Adoption

For birth parents and adoptive parents alike, it is important to research and to understand the three types of adoption: open adoption, semi-open adoption, and closed adoption. When considering adoption, understanding the differences between these three types can help both the birth parent(s) and the adoptive parent(s) determine which kind of adoption is right her/him/them.

Defining the three types of adoption can be difficult as each adoption story is unique, but the definition of a closed adoption is a little more straightforward than those of open and semi-open adoptions. Though closed adoption has its own complexities, open and semi-open adoption are still broader because it is up to both the birth parents and adoptive families to establish how much contact they want with each other and what is in the best interest of the child or children involved.

Open Adoption

  • With open adoption, the birth parents choose an adoptive family for the child, allowing them to secure the child’s well-being and future with the right family.
  • Open adoption gives the birth parents both future hope and closure because it gives them the opportunity to explain why they chose to place the child for adoption. Additionally, a child’s birth certificate and the birth family’s medical history is much easier to obtain when an adoption is open or semi-open.
  • In more recent years, open adoption has been preferred by adoptive families because it allows them and their child the chance to get to know the birth parents.
  • Children who have been adopted often have a lot of questions about the past, for example, why they were placed for adoption or if their birth family loved them. With the birth parent or parents in the picture, a child has the ability to ask these questions and get closure.

Semi-Open Adoption

  • Semi-open adoptions are often referred to as a ‘mediated adoptions’ because contact between a child’s birth parent(s) and adoptive parent(s) is coordinated through the adoption agency.
  • Contact between the birth family and adoptive family can be in the form of letters and/or photos passed between them via the agency. Agencies can also help birth and adoptive families communicate via emails and/or phone calls, and even set up occasional in-person visits.
  • In semi-open adoptions, the amount of communication is as much or as little as the birth and adoptive parents agree upon.
  • With semi-open adoptions, it is important for adoptive families to be open-minded to the possibility of becoming a fully open adoption. A semi-open adoption can become open, depending on the comfort levels of each of the three parties within the adoption triad.

Closed Adoption

  • Though open and semi-open adoptions are preferred, closed adoptions are not uncommon. For some birth and adoptive families, privacy between parties is most important. In closed adoption cases, the identity of the birth parent or parents and the adoptive parent or parents is kept confidential, as well as other possibly vital information.
  • When considering a closed adoption, it is important to remember that getting a child’s birth certificate and the birth family’s medical history can present quite the challenge. This information often cannot be obtained until the child is 18 years old, the age an individual is considered to be a legal adult.
  • Despite the preference of open and semi-open adoptions, there may be some birth and adoptive families who feel that a closed adoption is best for them.
  • Today’s adoption experts agree, however, that closed adoptions are the least beneficial to the adoption triad. As a child grows up, questions that can only be answered by a birth parents or parents may arise. Without answers to these questions, the child may struggle with her/his/their identity, which could lead to other problems in the future.

Whether you are a birth parent considering placing a child for adoption or a family considering adopting a child, doing research on each of the three adoption types is a must. Defining each type of adoption can be difficult, but only because each adoption case is uniquely different. Doing research can help birth and adoptive parents alike ease any concerns about adoption in order to determine which type of adoption is right for them. For more information on placing a child for adoption or adopting a child, please visit Adoption Choices of Florida or call us at 800-985-8108.