The decision to expand the family through adoption is exciting but has many important details to address before the process is complete. No decision is more critical than choosing open, mediated or closed adoption.
There are no right or wrong answers. Instead, it’s a matter of choosing the type that fits the family’s unique needs. When weighing the decision, it is essential to understand and consider the strengths of each:
Open adoption means that the biological parents and/or extended family remain a part of the adoptive family’s life. The degrees of interaction will vary, but the identities of the adoptive and biological families are known to each other.
The benefits for the adoptive parents include:
- Potential for a strong relationship with the biological parents and extended family
- A better understanding of the child’s history and background
- Less fear of birth parents appearing unexpectedly and disrupting the family unit
- Pride in the fact that the birth parents chose the placement
Benefits to the adoptee:
- The adoptee can have a dynamic and meaningful relationship with their biological family.
- There is no need to go in search of the birth family.
- They may better understand their family history and any health issues that come with it.
- The adoptee gets exposure to their biological heritage.
- The adoptee can connect with biological siblings, grandparents and extended family.
The benefits of mediated adoption
Mediated adoption allows for limited information transferred between the birth parents and the adoptive parents. It enables more control over access to the child and provides a certain amount of privacy for the adoptive and biological family. The stronger control over interaction more clearly establishes boundaries while at the same time being able to share some information with the adoptive child or adult when they ask questions. Having some fact-based information enables the adoptee to understand better who they are.
The benefits of closed adoption
Closed adoption means there is little or no exchange or information, limiting it to the background and medical information but nothing identifying the biological parents. Some families choose this approach because it provides firm boundaries where they are the undisputed parent. This means:
- They do not need to share their child with another family.
- The biological family does not interfere with how the adoptive parents raise the child.
- Not all birth parents are beneficial, and this format better protects the child from this influence.
Benefits for the adoptee:
- It can be complex relating to the biological parents.
- It can be difficult to understand why the parents chose to put their child up for adoption.
- The parents are unstable or have mental health issues.
It’s best to be honest
Adoptive parents need to be honest with themselves about what they see as the best option for the family. Of course, it is important to also weigh the child’s needs, particularly if they have already established relationships with their biological family. While attorneys can help make the adoption a reality, counseling can help families work through the decision-making before, during and after the adoption.