• November 2008
  • Vol. 9, No. 9

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Family Attitudes Toward Open Adoption

Two recently published studies indicate that birth families and adoptive families with open adoption arrangements are more satisfied with the arrangement and with the adoption process in general than families with semi-open or closed adoptions. The studies reached similar conclusions even though their samples included birth and adoptive families at different stages of life.

The first study, "Bridging the Divide: Openness in Adoption and Postadoption Psychosocial Adjustment Among Birth and Adoptive Parents," examined satisfaction with the adoption process and postadoption adjustment and well-being of birth and adoptive families 6 to 9 months after infant adoptions. Interviews were performed with 323 matched birth mothers and adoptive parents, as well as a subsample of 112 birth fathers. According to the results:

  • Openness increased both adoptive parents' and birth mothers' satisfaction with the adoption process.
  • Higher degrees of openness increased birth mothers' postadoption adjustment and well-being.
  • More control over the degree of openness increased birth fathers' satisfaction with the adoption process.

In the second study, "Many Faces of Openness in Adoption: Perspectives of Adopted Adolescents and Their Parents," parents and adopted adolescents from 177 adoptive families were interviewed regarding satisfaction with their postadoption contact arrangements. The adolescents had been adopted at birth and ranged in age from 11 to 20 years old. Adoptive families in contact with the birth mother reported higher levels of satisfaction with the arrangement than those without contact. Among the results:

  • Families with face-to-face contact reported the greatest satisfaction; those with stopped or no contact reported the least satisfaction.
  • Most families wanted the intensity of contact to increase in the future; fewer than 1 percent wanted contact to decrease.
  • As the intensity of contact increased, adopted adolescents reported more positive feelings toward their birth mother; the amount of contact showed no effect on negative feelings or well-being.

These studies contribute to the growing evidence that increasing contact among the birth mother, adoptive parents, and adopted children may improve family members' overall satisfaction and adjustment after the adoption. The authors of both studies suggest that giving individuals more control over determining the amount of openness in the adoption may improve outcomes for everyone involved.

"Bridging the Divide: Openness in Adoption and Postadoption Psychosocial Adjustment Among Birth and Adoptive Parents," by Ge Xiaojia et al., was published in the Journal of Family Psychology, Volume 22(4), and can be purchased online:
http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/fam/22/4/529/

"Many Faces of Openness in Adoption: Perspectives of Adopted Adolescents and Their Parents," by Harold D. Grotevant et al., was published in Adoption Quarterly, Volume 10(3-4), and can be purchased online:
www.haworthpress.com/store/ArticleAbstract.asp?sid=9T6EGQ9B7WSH8KKJ10FBUJ2QFHQ22032&ID=110830

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