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February 2003Vol. 4, No. 1New Findings from Longitudinal Study Show Adoption Openness Results in Greater Birth Mother Satisfac

Open adoptions work well for most birth mothers who have participated in them, according to the most recent findings from a national longitudinal study. The researchers, Dr. Ruth McRoy of the University of Texas at Austin and Dr. Harold Grotevant of the University of Minnesota, say study findings suggest that while the level of openness should be decided on a case-by-case basis, adoption should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.

Other findings regarding birth mothers included:

  • Birth mothers in direct, ongoing contact with the adoptive family report greater satisfaction with openness, lower levels of grief about the placement, and more satisfaction with their role in the adopted child's life.
  • Many birth mothers in confidential adoptions were either actively seeking information or actively providing updated information later in their children's adoptions, in some cases as long as 21 years after the placement.
  • Almost 40 percent of the birth mothers experienced a change in openness level from Wave 1 of the study (1987-1992) to Wave 2 (1995-2000). Of those, 58 percent had more openness and 42 percent had less openness.

The recent study is part of the larger Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP), the only nationwide longitudinal study of its kind. Researchers have surveyed and interviewed adoptive families and birth mothers from 35 adoption agencies across the United States involved in adoptions with a range of confidentiality or openness. A total of 720 participants (169 birth mothers, 190 adoptive mothers, 190 adoptive fathers, and 171 children) have been interviewed over 13 years (from 1987 to 2000).

More information about the most recent findings regarding birth mothers can be found on the University of Texas website at: nr_200210/nr_adoption021007.html.

For more information regarding the MTARP study, its conclusions, and the many publications resulting from this study, visit the MTARP website at:

For more information on openness in adoption, read the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse fact sheet and bulletin, Open Adoption ( and