Blog// LGBT Adoptive Parents

Exploring Different Types of Domestic Infant Adoption

When thinking about adopting, it is important to be able to distinguish between the three different types of adoption that exist. When people think about adoption, they typically think of closed adoption when in reality, today most adoptions have some level of openness. In fact, it is estimated that only 5% of adoptions today are closed.  When thinking about the different types of adoption, the focus should always be about what is in the best interest of the adoptee. 

What is a closed adoption?

In a closed adoption, there is minimal to no contact between the birth and adoptive families. Identifying information is usually kept confidential, and the records are sealed.

What is an open adoption?

In an open adoption, there is a high level of communication and contact between the adoptive and birth families. They may share identifying information and have ongoing interactions, including visits, phone calls, emails, or other forms of communication.

What is a semi-open adoption?

Semi-open adoption falls between open and closed adoption in terms of communication and contact.

What type of adoption is best?

While all adoption stories and the situations surrounding adoption are unique, open adoption, or adoptions with some openness have been widely stated as the best adoption choice for all members of the adoption triad: birth parents, adoptees, and adoptive parents. Here are some potential benefits of open adoption:

Access to Information and Identity Formation:

Open adoption allows adoptees to have access to information about their birth family, background, and cultural heritage.This information can be crucial for the child's identity formation and a better understanding of their personal history. A lot of adoptees have questions about themselves and their story and having answers to these questions can help adoptees develop a healthy sense of self and learn more about who they are in context of their story. 

Emotional Health and Well-Being:

Having access to information and, in some cases, a relationship with birth parents can contribute to an adoptee's emotional well-being. Knowing and having a connection with birth family members can provide a sense of belonging. Adoptees will always belong to their adoptive family but some adoptees will need that sense of belonging from their first families too. 

Understanding and Acceptance:

Open adoption can facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of the reasons behind the adoption, leading to greater acceptance by the adoptee. Open communication may help address questions and concerns that may arise as the child grows older. Often, adoptees can feel their birth parents “gave them up” and struggle to undo that narrative. Open adoption can potentially help undo that narrative or way of thinking for adoptees.

Maintaining Relationships:

Open adoption allows adoptees to maintain a connection with their birth family, providing opportunities for ongoing relationships with biological siblings, grandparents, and other relatives. This extended network of relationships can enrich the adoptee's life. It can also help ease any feelings of secrecy, shame or stigma that adoptees and birth parents may feel. 

Access to Medical History:

One significant challenge for many adoptees that have closed adoptions or were adopted internationally is the lack of family medical history. Open adoption can provide adoptees with valuable medical information from their birth family, which can be important for their overall health care. Knowing about potential genetic conditions or family medical history can aid in preventive care.

While there is no one size fits all approach and every adoption arrangement will be created to the benefit of  those involved, some level of openness can be incredibly important for both adoptees and birth parents. Again, when thinking about adoption, it is important to make sure decisions are made that put the child first. 

By: Ramya Gruneisen

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