Open Adoption: Rethinking Family.
Future of Adoption 2019
Grotevant, Harold D.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Rudd Adoption Research Program.
University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Rudd Adoption Research Program
Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences 135 Hicks Way Tobin Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
Tel: (413) 545-0547
This paper explains open adoption involves contact between a child’s birth and adoptive family members over time, creating an adoptive kinship network that connects his or her families of birth and adoption. It notes open adoptions are becoming increasingly common in adoptions from the child welfare system, describes different types of contact in open adoptions, and discusses key concerns that were cited when open adoptions were first contemplated in the 1970s. Findings are then shared from the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP) that has been following 190 adoptive families and 169 birth mothers in which their children were placed for adoption as infants through private adoption agencies. Findings indicate: adolescents experiencing open adoptions are not confused about who their parents are and can readily understand that multiple adults care for them and have distinctive roles in their lives; birth mothers with contact experience less unresolved grief than those with no contact or contact that stopped, and the contact allows them to be reassured about their child’s well-being; and adoptive parents with contact do not fear their child will be reclaimed, in part because of their ability to talk directly with their child’s birth relatives about this. For adopted children, the research found open adoptions provided them with an understanding of their birth relatives as real people. Adolescents and emerging adults who were more satisfied with their contact demonstrated better psychological adjustment than those who were dissatisfied with their arrangements. The paper describes open adoption arrangements and outcomes in adoptions from the child welfare system and in international adoptions. The report closes with implications for the future of adoption in the areas of research, practice, and policy. 30 references.
birth parents; outcomes; PARENTAL ATTITUDES; CHILDS ATTITUDES; OPEN ADOPTION; ADOPTION TRIADS; Intercountry adoption; CHILD WELFARE AGENCIES