How to have a Successful Semi-Open Adoption
No matter what type of adoption journey you’re on, you want it to be successful. This month Adoption Choices of New York has covered topics like how to have successful transracial adoptions, LGBT+ adoptions and single parent adoptions. Now we’ll take a look into how to have a successful semi-open adoption.
The amount of openness in an adoption is an important choice to make; it is the foundation on which the adoption will be set. For more in-depth reading on semi-open adoptions, you can see our posts on understanding closed, semi-open and open adoptions or our pros and cons of semi-open adoption. But for right now, here are the basics of semi-open adoptions.
While closed adoptions have zero contact between birth parents and the adoptive family, open adoptions allow for direct communication between birth parents and the adoptive family. The middle ground is a semi-open adoption, where all parties can communicate through the adoption agency to preserve anonymity while allowing for the peace of mind that comes with knowing communication is possible if needed. That said, what defines a ‘successful’ semi-open adoption?
The first goal of any adoption is for the adoptee to be raised in a loving and supportive home. As long as you’re accomplishing that, you’re doing a great job! The arrangement of a semi-open adoption allows for some other successes as well. With the ability to communicate with their birth parents, the adoptee shouldn’t feel the need to seek out birth parents later in life and be left questioning with where they come from, what their medical background is and other concerns. Adoptive parents should have peace of mind knowing that they can communicate with the birth parents if they need to know things like medical history or other updates. Birth parents, ironically, should have more closure than a closed adoption would allow, because they can see updates from the adoptee, but also still have the anonymity and privacy that an open adoption would not allow.
So a successful semi-open adoption is when all parties feel comfortable with the level of communication and anonymity provided by the adoption. What are some steps you can take to set yourself up for success?
How to Set Yourself up for Success
- Establish Clear Boundaries
While there is openness with the semi-open adoption, the birth mother could still be uncomfortable with too much openness. It can be painful for birth mothers to see their child grow up and not be an active part of it; this is one of the many reasons some birth mothers might prefer a closed adoption.
Communicate prior to the birth what each party wants out of the semi-open arrangement. Really listen to what the other person wants and needs from the adoption. How does each party want to be talked about to the adoptee? What kind and level of communication are parties expecting? Holidays and birthdays? Yearly updates? More often than that? Consider and discuss what levels of communication the adoptee might want as they grow up. What will those boundaries be?
- Stay Flexible
After the birth, make sure to keep those lines of communication open. People may change their mind with time, so be open to figuring out new agreements as needed. Similarly, as the adoptee grows up, they will have their own opinions on what level of communication they would like. As above, you should establish boundaries and have a plan in place for when these sorts of questions come up.
The most important thing here is to be respectful. Be respectful of established boundaries, communicate clearly if there is a desire for those boundaries to change, then be respectful if the party does or does not wish to change the established boundaries.
- Be Aware of the Cons of Semi-Open Adoptions
While semi-open adoptions can be the middle ground and best of both worlds, providing both communication and anonymity for everyone in the adoption triad, there are still some drawbacks. A main potential drawback is that the communication is mediated by the adoption agency, which means if the adoption agency goes out of business or your specific caseworker retires or otherwise leaves the adoption agency, there is a possibility the birth parents and adoptive family could unintentionally lose contact with each other. Another way the adoption triad can lose contact with each other is by not updating contact information with the adoption agency or caseworker when they move or get a new phone number or email address.
At Adoption Choices of New York, we utilize a secure website portal called ChildConnect. Your caseworker will help you set it up and be available if you have any questions, but your communication won’t be dependent on one person passing things along.
How to have a Successful Semi-Open Adoption
Those are just a couple tips tricks to setting yourself up for a successful semi-open adoption! What is successful here is again the comfort of all parties with the levels of communication and anonymity between all members of the adoption triad. If you approach a semi-open adoption with love for the adoptee and respect for each other, these things will fall into place, and you’re well on your way to your very own adoption success story!
Meet the Author: Darby Summers is an avid fan of fantasy and sci-fi stories in all mediums, and aspires to share a story of her own to add to the genres she has adored her entire life. Raised in a house with the rule: “You can stay up as late as you want, as long as you’re reading”, Darby’s passion for reading, literature, and language was inspired at a young age, and continued through her achievement of a Bachelor’s in English from Allegheny College in 2017.
When she isn’t absorbed in the latest series to capture her attention, Darby enjoys working on cosplays and going to cons with friends. Her perfect night consists of staying in playing games (of the video, board or card varieties), making some delicious homemade pizza, and settling in on the couch for a movie with her husband, Adam, and cat, Sylvie. (187)