Pros and Cons of Adoption

by Laura Christianson

This series of blogs will explore the pros and cons of
various types of adoption: confidential/closed, semi-open and
fully-disclosed/open; international; special needs and foster-to-adopt. Please email
me your own pros and cons and I’ll add them to the list.

Part 1: Pros and Cons of Confidential or Closed Adoption

What is closed adoption?
A confidential adoption is one in which there is no contact between the birth and adoptive families. Confidential or closed adoption was commonplace from the 1950s through the early 1980s, when the concept of open adoption began gaining popularity. In a confidential adoption, the agency or adoption attorney serves as the mediator, and the adoptive family receives only non-identifying information (medical history, description of physical features, etc.) about the birth parents.

The child’s safety is foremost

Confidential adoptions are an appropriate choice (and often, the only viable choice) when the birth parents are incarcerated, are drug addicted, are emotionally disturbed or have been abusive to the child. In these situations, the child has often been removed from his or her birth parents for safety reasons. The safety of the child should always be a parent’s foremost concern. If protecting a child from potentially harmful contact with his or her birth parents is a critical factor, a closed adoption is a viable choice.

Birth parents are out of the picture — for better or for worse
Adoptive parents who choose a confidential adoption do so partly out of fear of involvement from potentially pushy birth parents. On the other hand, because they know nothing about the birth parents, the adoptive parents may have a hard time feeling empathy toward them as fellow human beings who grieve over the fact that their child is no longer in their life.

Or the adoptive parents may live in fear, always on the lookout for anyone who resembles their child, fearful that a birth parent will swoop in and steal the child. These fears are largely unfounded, as proven by the ever-increasing popularity of open adoption (see article on the pros and cons of open adoption for a different perspective).

In the past, when closed adoption was a birth parent’s only option, people asserted that confidential adoption gave birth parents the opportunity to put the painful experience behind them and move on with their lives. Numerous studies show that birth parents do not ever forget the child they placed for adoption. Not knowing whether their child is healthy, happy and well-adjusted causes lifelong grief for many birth parents. Because of their lack of information about their child, birth parents are likely to second-guess their decision, forever wondering how their child is doing, whether their child hates them, or whether their child is anxious to meet them.

Some birth parents still do choose closed adoption because they do not want their pregnancy to be public knowledge and the confidentiality of closed adoption makes them feel more comfortable.

The child may be affected negatively
Adopted children seem to be the ones most negatively affected by confidential adoption. Thousands of adult adoptees born in the 1950s through ‘70s search for their birth parents, saying they feel incomplete, as if part of their identity is missing. Many adopted women search for their birth parents when they get pregnant for the first time, desiring to complete the “missing link” of their biological heritage and to obtain more complete medical information about potential health issues their own children may inherit.

Coming December 6: Pros and Cons of Semi-Open Adoption

This series on the pros and cons of adoption is also available at

Amanda March 24, 2009 at 5:27 PM

i was adopted in 1987. my adoption was a closed adoption. I only knew what they looked like and their heritage. When i turned 18 i want to see if i could find my birth parents but i was to scared to try it at the time. When i was 20 i decided i really need to find out for myself what my life would have been like and what my birth mother was like. It took less then 2 hours once i got a hold of the county i was adopted from and they had got in contact with my birth mom, she did want to meet me. No more then 2 weeks later did she get a hold of me. i found out some interesting information, i had a older half brother who is now 24, a younger biological brother who is 20(she kept him) and a younger half sister who is 18. when i found this out at first i was a little upset that she kept the rest and gave me up. but then i realized i was a great life and great parents. I have know her for about a year and a half now, i don’t really talk to her but i am very close to my old half brother and my younger biological brother. Then about 2 months ago my half sister from my birth dad which i don’t know got in contact with me. All this has been a very interesting experience for me. But to tell you the truth i love my siblings. i was adopted by a very good family and brought up in a good house hold. I am in college to be nurse, as far as i know i am on the right track. i think closed adoptions are good but at the same time it made it hard for me at times.

Rebecca Solares March 25, 2009 at 9:29 PM

I was adopted in 1976 and have never had a strong desire to contact my birthparents. Considering it was a closed adoption, I believe there are many factors that must be considered when determining to contact birthparents. I have considered my birthparents and their potential wishes to not be contacted, having moved on with their lives. Relatedly, they may have not told their families. Being a psychotherapist myself, I disagree with the therapist who stated that each person who is adopted feels “different” and a part of themselves incomplete. I never felt different nor incomplete. I am my parents daughter, and I am proud to be their daughter. I hold no ill will toward the young kids who gave me up for adoption. That must have been a hard decision. I’m sure they are very nice people, but they are not my family. Obviously, for those doing research, I would guarantee that you will not find two people that have the exact same beliefs about their adoption experience. I implore you to consider this as you conduct your research. This multi-faceted issue cannot be viewed in black and white.

Olivia April 3, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Thank you so much i am doing a debate on the pros and cons of adoption and this site helped….

anonymous June 1, 2009 at 11:05 PM

I am currently eight months pregnant. I am quite positive I am giving my most amazing son up for adoption. It is set to be an open adoption. For those of you who have been given up for adoption, please know that it is because your mom and/or dad loved you enough to give you up. If anyone thinks that this is an easy decision you are very wrong. I can’t even express how hard it is to give my son up. I think about him all the time. I know that I can’t provide for him everything I want him to have and my boyfriend and I aren’t married. We still love our son with all of our heart. There is nothing we wouldnt do for him. So, please, know that someone loved you enough to do what was in your best interest.
*and as for that guy who said that you shouldn’t have sex if you arent looking to have a kid… please! Spare me! I love my boyfriend, but I’m not ready to be married. We’re both college students, and it is a choice that two people have to make. It’s what they do if they do get pregnant that matters. When it comes down to it, it’s all about that precious little child.

Emma September 28, 2009 at 4:24 PM

Hi, Im doing a school project on, if a adopted child should have the choice to contacted their biological parents. However I have a partner and one of us is pro and the other con. My friend choose pro so I have to do con. Can you give me some information on the bad effects on contacting your birth parents, thanks so much.

Mic February 7, 2011 at 7:27 PM

I was six when my mother gave me up for adoption. I remember the heartbreak like it was yesterday. My mother gave me up for adoption (to protect me) and kept the boyfriend who sodamized me. It wasn’t my fault yet I payed the price. In foster care I was not saved from this type of treatment. I was sodamized 3 more times in 6 years in foster care. Not to mention all of the “brothers” I had who took all their aggressions toward there life out on the smaller kids (me). I would’ve killed and or imprisoned the man who raped my son then I would have given my son anything he needed to overcome the side effects of being raped. Instead I feel like all the adults in my life thought it my fault. I got treated all the time as if getting raped and bullied was something I asked for. I am now 35. If I weren’t married with children of my own I would be all alone. I have disowned everyone who blamed me for the treatment I recieved. I also do not care to meet the woman who had no morals or cajones to stand up to someone as sadistic and f’d up as her black boyfriend was. She should have involved the police…instead she involved foster care to raise her slut of a five year old boy.

naomi April 8, 2011 at 6:41 PM

umm I was adopted when i was 8 and am now currently 17 but im not sure if I should try to contact my birthmother if she is still living or not. I need advice.

socialwrkr247 April 14, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Please do not use issues such as when parents “are incarcerated, are drug addicted, are emotionally disturbed or have been abusive to the child” as a blanket reason to have a closed adoption!

Many, MANY children adopted from foster care are able to have safe and appropriate contact with their birth parents after adoption. Even if a birth parent is not able to care for their child, they are often quite able to have safe contact with that child in the form of supervised visits, letters, phone calls, etc. How is a parent in jail a safety issue? They are in jail! Visits or letters would still be appropriate ways to let the child have a relationship with their parents. People with substance abuse issues are not usually dangerous – stipulations for visits can be put into place to make sure the parent is sober when they interact with their children. People with mental health problems are not usually dangerous – though some precautions may need to be taken to make sure that they are stable enough for visits. And child abuse is the result of many issues within a family – this does not mean that the parent can not be appropriate with their child ever again! Again, supervised visits, letters and phone calls are all managable and appropriate!!

Parents who have had their children removed from them are not all terrible people. They are often people who themselves were raised with multiple family problems who were not able to break the cycles of poverty, lack of education, substance abuse and dysfunction. This does not mean that a child does not deserve to know their roots! This does not mean that a child will not still wonder and wish for contact with their family. While that contact may be more complicated or need more boundaries – none of these issues should automatically result in a closed adoption. Please be more cautious in what you recommend to those who are newly pursuing the paths of adoption.
socialwrkr247´s last blog post ..Routine Practice or Murder

Faylinn August 15, 2016 at 6:02 AM

Every single one of my siblings and I were adopted and, because of how dangerous our birth families were, they chose to have closed adoptions. Because I know what it is like to have questions about my birth family, I do think that parents should consider open adoption if they can. For me, I think that it would have answered a lot of questions about where I came from. Yet, I do understand that it was not a safe option for me growing up.

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