An adoption is characterized as open, semi-open, or closed based on the amount of contact between a child’s birth parents and their adoptive parents. In a closed adoption, adoptive parents had no contact whatsoever with birth parents. The child’s adoption records often remained sealed until they were 18.
Although closed adoptions were widespread just a few decades ago, trends in the United States have shifted decidedly towards open or semi-open adoptions. Below, we outline three important aspects of open and semi-open adoptions.
Open communication often means less stress
By removing the mystery frequently encountered in closed adoptions, both sets of parents often experience less stress during an open or semi-open adoption. They can get to know each other and build trust, sometimes becoming lifelong friends. For birth parents, a more open adoption process means they can find an adoptive family whose lifestyle matches the life they wish their child to have.
The degree of openness is up to you
Adoption can be open or “semi-open” based on the amount of contact everyone is comfortable with. In some cases, parents might meet and be in frequent communication during the pregnancy, then reduce the amount of contact after the adoption. Alternatively, participants in an open adoption might get together for birthdays and holidays throughout the child’s life.
Setting expectations is key
Like any other relationship, the success of an open adoption arrangement depends on both sides setting realistic expectations and communicating their needs. Adoptive parents may worry about their child becoming confused due to contact with their birth parents, for example. However, both parents can avoid this type of challenge by setting clear boundaries from the start.
An attorney specializing in adoption can help those considering an open or semi-open arrangement create a future contact plan and manage the ongoing relationship between parents.