A semi-open adoption occurs when the potential birth mother or birth families experience non-identifying interaction with the adoptive families. In most cases, interaction is facilitated by a third party which is usually the adoption agency or attorney.
In this type of adoption, the identity of all parties is usually kept from one another. In most cases, interaction is limited to letters or cards. However, in some cases there may be non-identifying e-mails or visits hosted by an adoption professional. With semi-open adoption, there are several potential disadvantages for birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children.
The Disadvantages of a Semi-Open Adoption
Disadvantages for Birth Parents
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with each person. For birth parents, the potential disadvantages of semi-open adoption include:
- Loss of relationship- Since the communication between the birth families and the adoptive family normally occurs through the adoption professional, there is the potential loss of a direct relationship with the adopted child.
- Increased grief– During the initial years following the placement of your child there is a greater risk of heightened grief from the inability to observe how the child is doing with the adoptive family.
- Interruption in contact- If the designated adoption professional changes or leaves, communication can be interrupted.
- Feelings of obligation– The financial and emotional investment on the part of the adoptive family can make the birth mother feel pressured and obligated to place the child for adoption.
Disadvantages for Adoptive Family
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with every family. For the adoptive family, the potential disadvantages of semi-open adoption include:
- Limited relationship– Because all communication is funneled through the adoption professional, there can be an absence of a deeper and more genuine relationship with the birth family.
- Limited information– Since communication depends on the adoption professional, there is the potential for less available information regarding medical histories, family genealogies and family histories.
- Delayed responses- If questions arise from the adoptive family or adopted child, there can be a delay in getting answers since the questions are processed by the adoption agency or adoption attorney.
Disadvantages for the Adopted Child
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with each child.
For the adopted child, the potential disadvantages of semi-open adoption include:
- Negative perceptions- Because the birth family is kept away from the adoptive family, the adopted child may develop a wrong perception that it is unsafe or wrong to interact directly with the birth family.
- Postponed or avoided reunions- Negative perceptions about the birth family may result in the adoptive child postponing or avoiding altogether opportunities to reunite with the birth family
- Identify confusion -There is a chance that an older child might struggle more with his or her identity because of the limited amount of communication with the birth family or because of trying to make sense of the additional family history and genealogy information.
- Preoccupation with adoption issues- A child in a semi-open adoption might have a slightly increased tendency to become preoccupied with adoption issues.
The semi-open adoption can vary with each adoption. Communication will continue to a vital factor in the adoption process. As communication about wishes, desires, and expectations increases, the more comfortable everyone involved will be.
It is usually helpful to to talk to an adoption professional where you can explore adoption in greater detail. You can ask questions and learn more about the process without pressure.
Last Updated: 06/2014
Advantage lists adapted from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse