A semi-open adoption occurs when potential birthmothers or birth families experience non-identifying interaction with adoptive families. In most cases, interaction is facilitated by a third party, usually an adoption agency or adoption attorney. Through this type of adoption, the identity of all parties is usually kept confidential. In most cases the interaction is limited to letters or cards. However, in some cases, there might be non-identifying e-mails or visits hosted by the adoption professional. There are several potential advantages to a semi-open adoption arrangement for birth parents, adoptive parents, and adopted children.
Semi-Open Adoption: Advantages for Birth Parents
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with each person. For birth parents, the possible advantages of a semi-open adoption include:
- Sense of control – For birth parents, having the ability to review, interview and select the adoptive parents for your child can be empowering and provide a sense of control.
- Privacy – Interaction between birth parents and adoptive families that are facilitated by adoption professionals provides a sense of privacy.
- Reduced uncertainties – The interactions and updates provided through the adoption agency or attorney can provide comfort to birthmothers by providing reassurances of the child’s well-being.
- Improved mourning – Regular updates on the child’s well-being including letters from the adoptive family, can improve the ability of some birth parents to deal with their sense of grief and loss.
- Reduced fear – When the adoption professional facilitates on-going communication between the adoptive and birth families both before the birth and following the adoption, birth parents tend to have fewer concerns about the well-being of the child.
- Reduced guilt - Updates and letters from the adoptive family provided through the adoption agency can lessen any feelings of guilt associated with the decision to place the child for adoption.
Semi-Open Adoption: Advantages for Adoptive Family
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with every family. For the adoptive family, the potential advantages of semi-open adoption include:
- Reduced fear – When the adoption professional facilitates on-going communication between you and the birthmother or birth families both before the birth and following the adoption, it usually helps reduce concerns regarding the birthmother’s intentions.
- Medically informed – A medical history is a normal part of the adoption process. However, with a semi-open adoption there is the opportunity through the adoption agency or attorney to request additional medical information based upon changing circumstances.
- Affirmation – As an adoptive family, you can experience a sense of empowerment or encouragement knowing that you were ‘hand picked’ to take care of the child.
- Roles clearly defined – A semi-open adoption makes it is easier to manage the roles of each party involved than in an open adoption.
- Understanding and confidence – Even though there is less access to birthparents than in open adoption, adoptive parents in semi-open adoption are still able to address concerns and ask questions about the child’s history through the adoption professional.
Semi-Open Adoption: Advantages for the Adopted Child
The open adoption experience can vary with each child. For the adopted child, the potential advantages of semi-open adoption include:
- Identity and self-confidence – Semi-open adoption provides adopted children with access to birth families through the adoption professional. This enables them to acquire information about family history and family trees making it easier to answer the questions such as“Who am I?” and “Where did I come from?”
- Protection against a sense of abandonment – Having the opportunity to receive communication from the birth families and be given reasons for the adoption can help prevent the child from experiencing a sense of abandonment.
- Absence for need to search - The yearning of a child to search for his or her birth family becomes a non-issue.
- Medically informed – A medical history is a normal part of the adoption process. A semi-open adoption proves the opportunity to obtain additional medical information that might become necessary with the onset of medical symptoms in adulthood or when questions arise regarding future family planning.
The semi-open adoption experience can vary with each adoption. Communication is a vital aspect of the adoption process. As communication about wishes, desires, expectations, etc., increases, the more comfortable everyone involved will be.
Advantage lists adapted from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse