Confidential Adoptions Mediated (Semi-Open) Open Adoptions

No contact between birth and adoptive families. No identifying information is provided.

Only nonidentifying information (e.g., height, hair color, medical history, etc.) is provided through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).

Nonidentifying contact is made (via cards, letters, pictures) through a third party (e.g., agency or attorney).

Direct interaction between birth and adoptive families. Identities are known.

Birth Parents

Provides real choice for birth parents when compared to open adoption.


Some feel this provides a sense of closure and ability to move on with life.

Allows for some information transfer between birth and adoptive parents (and perhaps the child).

Some privacy.

Increased ability to deal with grief and loss.

Comfort in knowing child’s well-being.

Sense of control over decision-making in placement.

Potential for more fully defined role in child’s life.

Potential to develop a healthy relationship with the child as he or she grows.

Less pain and guilt about the decision.

May make the decision to place for adoption easier (compared to a contested termination of parental rights trial).

Adoptive Parents

No need to physically share the child with birth parents.

No danger of birth parent interference or co-parenting.

Greater sense of control over process.

Roles may be more clearly defined than in either confidential or open options.

Increased sense of entitlement compared to confidential adoptions.

Enhanced ability to answer child’s questions about his or her history.

Increased sense of having the "right" to parent and increased ability for confident parenting.

Potential for authentic relationship with the birth family.

More understanding of children’s history.

Increased empathy for birth parents.

Less fear of birth parents reclaiming child because they know the parent and their wishes.

Delight of being "chosen" as a parent.

Adopted Persons

Protection from unstable or emotionally disturbed birth parents.

Only true when relationship is "shared" with the adopted child

Genetic and birth history known.

Birthparents are "real" not "fantasy."

Positive adjustment is promoted in adoptee.

Direct access to birth parents and history.

Need to search is eliminated.

Identity questions are answered (Who do I look like? Why was I placed?).

Eases feelings of abandonment.

Lessening of fantasies: birth parents are "real."

Increased circle of supportive adults.

Increased attachment to adoptive family (especially if the birth parents support the placement).

Preservation of connections (e.g., with siblings, relatives).

Lessens loyalty conflicts (according to recent research).

Exposure to racial and ethnic heritage.

Ability for evolving, dynamic, and developmentally appropriate account of the adoption.

From the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (U.S. Department of Health & Human Services)