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July/August 2004Vol. 5, No. 6Adopted Adolescents Generally Satisfied With Birth Parent Contact

A study published in the April 2004 issue of Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal found adopted adolescents who have contact with their birth parents are generally more satisfied with the degree of adoption openness than are adolescents who do not have contact with birth parents. The study was the first to seek the perspective of adolescents themselves regarding their sense of satisfaction with contact in adoption.

Using data collected from the Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP), the study included 137 adopted adolescents (67 boys and 70 girls). The adolescents' ages ranged from 11 to 21 years during the data collection. A majority of adolescents interviewed (59 percent) maintained some type of contact with their birth mothers, while only 15 percent had contact with birth fathers.

Results indicated that, overall, most respondents who maintained contact with birth parents were neutral to satisfied with their contact, and were more satisfied than those without contact. Neither gender nor age was found to have a significant impact on satisfaction with contact with birth mothers. Satisfaction regarding contact with birth fathers was found to increase with age, although gender was not found to be significant.

Findings from this study are similar to findings of other research emphasizing the benefits of open adoption. However, the authors noted that while contact is associated with greater satisfaction with the amount of openness, it cannot be assumed that all adopted people want this contact. Given their results, the authors note that it may be desirable to facilitate contact in adoptive arrangements if participating members are comfortable doing so.

MTARP is a longitudinal research project that includes a nationwide sample of adoptive families and birth mothers recruited through 35 agencies in 23 different States in all regions of the country. Although a voluntary sample, families were not recruited on the basis of a successful adoption. More information on the MTARP study can be found at

An abstract of this article, "Adolescents' Satisfaction with Contact in Adoption," and ordering information can be found at

Related Items

More articles about openness in adoption can be found in previous issues of Children's Bureau Express:

  • "Open Adoption Increasingly Common Among Private U.S. Adoption Agencies" (December 2003/January 2004)
  • "New Findings From Longitudinal Study Show Adoption Openness Results in Greater Birth Mother Satisfaction" (February 2003)

Child Welfare Information Gateway offers both a factsheet for families ( and a bulletin for professionals ( on openness in adoption.