Semi-Open Adoption

Vanessa1 sobbed as she held the positive pregnancy test in her trembling fingers. Her life was over. Abortion crossed her mind as the only way out. She scheduled the first available appointment at her local clinic. When she walked from her car to the building’s entrance, her heart pounded in her chest. The nurse led her into a small room and directed her to lie down on the examination table. Vanessa tried to relax, but an inner voice shouted, “Get out!” She jumped off the table and ran from the clinic as fast as her legs would carry her. After taking time to collect her thoughts and research other options, Vanessa considered adoption. She met with an adoption agency’s caseworker and decided it was her best choice. Together, they created a plan and chose a family for her baby. After Jaden was born, Vanessa struggled to say goodbye, but she knew he would have a better life. Providing her son a bright future was the greatest gift she could give and the deepest demonstration of her love.

You have three options when it comes to choosing your adoption plan.2 Do you want an open, semi-open, or closed adoption? The choice you make is determined by the level of contact you want to keep with your child. Even among the three types of adoption plans, there is a wide variety of options. They are based upon your preferences, the needs of your child, and the agreement of their adoptive family.  

Choosing adoption is a courageous decision. Before you begin this journey, consider the advantages and disadvantages of each adoption plan. It is important to create an adoption arrangement that you are pleased and comfortable with. Let’s explore what a semi-open (or mediated) adoption plan is and how it affects you and your child.

What is a Semi-Open Adoption?

Some adoption professionals consider semi-open adoption a type of open adoption, but it is really a balance between closed adoption and open adoption. A semi-open adoption plan maintains contact between birth parents and adoptive families. However, they will not exchange last names, addresses, or phone numbers.3 Thus, it provides more privacy than an open adoption plan without the total loss of communication in a closed adoption plan. You and the family will make sure that the arrangement is suitable for everyone.  

In a semi-open plan, adoption agencies or an adoption attorney4 usually facilitate the interactions. It limits contact to non-identifying letters, e-mails, and visits.5 You are free to remain connected with your child while maintaining confidentiality.

Advantages of a Semi-Open Adoption

When you choose a semi-open adoption, there are many advantages. Be sure to consider each aspect seriously.

1. Meet the Parents

You have the opportunity to get to know the prospective parents before your baby is born.6 This contact may help you feel more secure in your adoption decision and help you choose the best family for your child. You are in control of your child’s future, and you determine the family that you want her to grow up in.7 

2. Remain Confidential

Another benefit of semi-open adoption is that you can stay connected with your child, yet keep your identity private.8 You will only be known by your first name. Still, you can feel reassured of your child’s well-being through the interactions and updates from her new family provided through your adoption agency or adoption attorney.9  

3. Watch Your Child Grow Up

Knowing that you can watch your child  grow up from a distance may help you process any feelings of grief or loss that you experience after her placement.

Disadvantages of a Semi-Open Adoption

However, there are disadvantages to semi-open adoption plans. Each person is different and handles challenges in various ways, so don’t feel pressured. 

1. Distant Relationship

Most likely, you will not have a direct relationship with your child after they are placed with  their new family.10 You may desire the open, continual contact provided by an open adoption instead.

2. Possible Interrupted Contact  

In a semi-open plan, you can experience interrupted communication if the designated adoption professional changes or leaves.11 This could end your relationship with your child and their family.

3. Remembering Your Decision 

On the other hand, you may not want to be constantly reminded, through continued communication, of the difficult choice you made and choosing a closed adoption may help you heal emotionally.

Who Pays for the Adoption? 

Since each situation is different, the legal fees vary. However, the fees do not depend on the adoption plan chosen.12 It is common for adoption agencies to place some or all of the legal fees associated with adoption on the adoptive family.13 The agency knows the challenges you face and desires to make this journey as easy as possible for you. Be aware that there are different laws and details in each state, so be sure to stay connected with an adoption professional.

Taking the Next Step

The staff at your local care center will help you work through any questions or concerns. If you are interested, they can provide you with a referral to an adoption specialist, or an adoption attorney for further help. Be open about your hopes or fears for adoption, so you can receive the best service possible and develop a semi-open adoption plan that you feel comfortable with.

A semi-open adoption provides the opportunity to have a balance between an open adoption and a closed adoption. It gives you the freedom to stay connected to your child, while maintaining your privacy and confidentiality.

No matter what plan you choose, you can be at peace knowing that you gave life to your child, and they are growing up in a stable, loving environment. You are providing your baby with life and a loving family—what priceless gifts!


1. Names changed to protect privacy.