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The Benefits and Challenges of Open Adoptions

Statistics, Studies and Research on Adoption and Adoption Related Issues

❶Discussion Recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies and the availability of adoption placements have expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent.

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The Existing Empirical Evidence
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Though preliminary, these data begin to fill a critical void in the literature. Ninety-four percent of adoptive mothers and 92 percent of adoptive fathers in this sample were Caucasian. The mean ages at the time of placement were College degree was the mode of education level for both adoptive mothers and fathers Birth parents participated in a 2-hour interview in their home or in another location convenient for them at approximately 6-months post-placement when the child was 6 months old.

Participants were paid for volunteering their time to the study. For both the birth- and adoptive-parent assessment, computer-assisted interview questions were asked by the interviewer to the participant, and each participant independently completed a set of questionnaires. Domains assessed for both adoptive and birth parents included personality, psychosocial adjustment, life events, and the adoption placement. In addition, adoptive parents were observed in a series of interaction tasks with their child e.

Interviewers completed a minimum of 40 hours of training including a two-day group session, pilot interviews, and videotaped feedback, prior to administering interviews with study participants. Openness in adoption was measured using three subscales independently reported by each birth and adoptive parent: The measure of openness differs from the tripartite categorical classification of closed, semi-open, and open adoption in Grotevant and McRoy and reflects a continuum of openness.

Each of these subscales is described below. Birth mothers and fathers individually reported, on a 7-point scale ranging from very closed 1 to very open 7 , their overall ratings on the degree of openness they experienced in their adoption process. Interviewers gave a detailed description of the response options.

Adoptive parents were then followed up with more detailed questions depending on their answer to this initial question. The definitions of response options i. Summarizing these items allowed a 7-point scale of openness, ranging from very closed 1 , closed 2 , semi open 3 , moderately open 4 , open 5 , quite open 6 , to very open 7. This response scale corresponds to the response scale presented to birth parents.

Birth mothers and birth fathers individually reported on how much contact they had with the adoptive parents. Adoptive mothers and fathers reported separately on how much contact they had with the birth mother and birth father because unlike adoptive parents, most birth parents were not a couple. For the adoptive father- and adoptive mother-reports of their contact with the birth mother , each adoptive parent responded to the same four items as above to describe their engagement in keeping contact with the birth mother plus two additional items rated on the same 5-point scale: Higher scores in these scales indicated more frequent contact between adoptive families and birth parents.

Birth mothers and birth fathers reported how much knowledge they had with the adoptive mother and father. On a 4-point scale ranging from nothing 1 to a lot 4 , birth mothers indicated the extent to which they knew about five aspects of each adoptive parent: Higher scores indicated more knowledge about the other party. The perceived openness, contact, and knowledge subscales were combined to create an aggregated openness measure for each informant i.

This procedure created six aggregated openness measures: Each subscale was standardized before aggregating because the measures of perceived openness, contact, and knowledge had different response formats. One possible confound in the study is selection effect. That is, more troubled birth and adoptive parents may choose closed adoption because they are less willing to share their information to other families involved in adoption.

To address this issue, associations between depression, anxiety, and annual income of birth and adoptive parents and their reports of openness were examined. No significant correlations of self-reported depression and anxiety and annual income with the degree of openness in any parties involved in adoption were found. Previous studies have shown that the degree of openness is associated with satisfaction with the adoption process Berry, ; Grotevant et al. To measure levels of satisfaction, birth mothers and fathers independently used a 4-point scale ranging from very dissatisfied 1 to very satisfied 4 to report on their satisfaction with: In a similar fashion, adoptive fathers and mothers independently completed items using the same 4-point scale regarding their satisfaction with: Higher scores indicated higher satisfaction with the adoption process.

The responses were reverse-coded and summed so that the higher scores indicated better post-adoption adjustment. Second, trained interviewers provided ratings of each birth parent.

Items were coded such that higher scores indicated better adjustment of birth parents in the eyes of interviewers. Items were rated on a scale ranging from a lot worse 1 to improved a lot 5. Second, using the same 5-point response scale, adoptive parents also were asked how much each of the ten domains of the adoptive process improved after having the adopted child.

For both scales, higher scores indicated better post-adoption adjustment. We thus included the presence of biological child in adoptive family in the model for adoptive mothers. For instance, adoptive and birth parents who had choices in selecting the level of openness may feel more satisfied with the adoption process.

The level of choice in deciding the openness level was not associated with satisfaction or adjustment indices among adoptive parents and birth mothers. We first examined descriptive statistics of the study variables. We then reported bivariate correlations between the degrees of openness reported by three distinctive informants i. Next, we performed a series of structural equation modeling to test whether openness in adoption was associated with post-placement adjustment of adoptive fathers, mothers, and birth mothers.

The analysis of the birth father sample was conducted separately from the above-mentioned analyses for adoptive parents and birth mothers due to the smaller sample size. Means and standard deviations of the study variables are presented in Table 1.

As shown in Table 1 , the means for openness were above 4. Table 2 describes the frequency of this 7-point perceived openness scale. These descriptive statistics indicate that the adoption practices in our sample were slightly skewed toward being more open.

Table 3 presents correlations among the aggregated measure of openness, satisfaction with the adoption process, and post-adoption adjustment among adoptive parents and birth mothers. The correlations indicate that the degree of openness in the adoption process was significantly related to satisfaction with the adoption process. This pattern was consistent regardless of who reported satisfaction or openness.

For adoptive mothers, openness was modestly associated with improved wellbeing after adoption of the child. We also computed correlations among the observed variables that together formed a latent construct in subsequent structural equation modeling analyses not shown.

The correlations among the indices of openness reported by three different informants i. The hypothesis regarding the link between openness in adoption process and post-placement adjustment among birth and adoptive parents was tested using LISREL 8. The results of the structural equation models for both adoptive fathers and mothers are shown in Figure 1.

The coefficients presented in Figure 1 are based on standardized solutions. Coefficients above denote loadings for adoptive fathers, and below for adoptive mothers. The results for birth mothers are presented in Figure 2. This analysis was conducted separately from other analyses because a there were only participating birth fathers, as opposed to birth mothers who were linked to the other members of adoption triads and b birth father-reported openness does not converge with that of other informants.

However, this pattern of results was not apparent when adoptive parent-reports of openness were used. Thus, the overall pattern of findings appeared to be quite different from that of birth mothers. The coefficients were computed based on pairwise deletion. Openness is a combination of three subscales i. Recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies and the availability of adoption placements have expanded the definition of what it means to be a parent.

For some, it means a newfound ability to rear a child from birth onward; for others, it means the gift of giving life to another through an adoption placement or through assisted reproductive technologies e. However, despite varied routes to parenthood, little is known about how the ongoing relationship between rearing and biological parents relates to their own psychosocial adjustment.

Using a sample of matched birth and adoptive parents, this study examined the relationship between levels of adoption openness and post-placement satisfaction and adjustment among them. The results that emerged from this study are fairly straightforward: For adoptive parents and birth mothers, the degree of openness in the adoption was significantly and positively associated with satisfaction with the adoption process shortly after the adoptive placement.

Increased openness was also significantly related to better post-placement adjustment of birth mothers. These results are in contrast to some earlier claims that open adoption would increase distress among birth and adoptive parents e.

Although straightforward, these results have significant implications to adoption practices and offer some important information about settling the controversy of open vs.

Our findings provide a formal evaluation of open adoption practices, showing that satisfaction with the adoption process for adoptive and birth parents, and post-adoption well-being of birth mothers are indeed higher when adoption process is more open.

The benefits to birth mothers appear to arise from exchanges and contacts with adoptive parents that provide informal sources of social supports.

The robust associations between openness and post-adoption adjustment among adoptive parents did not emerge, however. Openness was not associated with post-adoption adjustment for adoptive fathers, and only modestly with adoptive mothers. Quite possibly, the advantages and disadvantages for adoptive parents in open adoption might cancel each other out. Indeed, McRoy and Grotevant reported that while adoptive parents in open adoption were, in general, satisfied with the amount of contact with the birth parent, adoptive parents in direct contact with birth mothers did express some concerns about the maturity of birth mothers and the amount of time and energy that contact with them demanded.

Although adoptive parents in open adoption felt that openness was in the best interests of the children, 9-months post-placement may well be a highly challenging time for them. At this time, their adjustment and well-being may be more affected by how they adapt to their lives of raising the adopted child than by the degree of contact with birth mothers.

The methodological advances made in this study are noteworthy. First, this study has made a contribution to the assessment of openness construct by showing utility of a multi-informant strategy.

The multi-informant assessment strategy turned out to be very informative. Unlike many multi-agent measures, a fairly high agreement in openness emerged across informants. Such high convergent validity increases confidence in the results reported here. Second, openness was measured on a continuum instead of using a tripartite categorization.

Even in those states which do not expressly have laws in this area, these agreements can usually be prepared if the parties desire to formalize the agreement. In an increasing number of US states, courts will find these agreements legally enforceable, as long as they serve the best interests of the child. It is not unusual for these agreements to be more like "handshake" agreements, although they offer less protection to a birth parent if the adoptive parent's promises were not honored.

There are sometimes problems concerning birth mothers and adoption agencies who neglect to make sure the proper paperwork is done on the birth father's part. It is crucial to remember that no child can be relinquished legally without the birth father's consent, except in Utah.

He must be given the chance to claim custody of the child. For this purpose, many states have established a Putative father registry , although some adoption activists see these as a hindrance rather than a help.

The placement of older children can take two widely divergent paths. Generally speaking when a child has bonded to a birth parent then a need for an adoptive placement arises, it is usually critical for that child's emotional welfare to maintain ties with the birth parent.

Sometimes a parent raised a child, but a problem has arisen, and parenting is no longer possible, and there are no family members able to take over the parenting role, so adoption is the best option.

Another way older children can be placed for adoption is where the birth parents' rights were terminated by a court due to improper parenting or abuse. Although the child may still foster idealized feelings for that failing parent it is not uncommon in these adoptions for there to be no contact between the child and adoptive parent, and the birth parent.

At age 18, people adopted in the United Kingdom , Australia, Europe and in several provinces in Canada are automatically entitled to their birth certificates and may access their adoption records. In nearly all US states adoption records are sealed and withheld from public inspection after the adoption is finalized. Most states have instituted procedures by which parties to an adoption may obtain non-identifying and identifying information from an adoption record while still protecting the interests of all parties.

Non-identifying information includes the date and place of the adoptee's birth; age, race, ethnicity, religion, medical history, physical description, education, occupation of the biological parents; reason for placing the child for adoption; and the existence of biological siblings. All states allow an adoptive parents access to non-identifying information of an adoptee who is still a minor.

Nearly all states allow the adoptee, upon reaching adulthood, access to non-identifying information about their relatives. Approximately 27 states allow biological parents access to non-identifying information. In addition many states give such access to adult siblings. Identifying information is any data that may lead to the positive identification of an adoptee, biological parents, or other relatives. Nearly all states permit the release of identifying information when the person whose information is sought has consented to the release.

Many states ask biological parents to specify at the time of consent or surrender whether they are willing to have their identity disclosed to the adoptee when he or she is age 18 or If consent is not on file, the information may not be released without a court order documenting good cause to release the information. Openness in adoption refers to the amount of contact among birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted person. The amount of contact may vary from family to family and, within a family, may change over time.

This communication may range from little or no contact; to mediated contact through a third party, anonymous email, or post office box; to ongoing communication with shared identifying information; to occasional in-person contact, holiday visits, or regular communication and visitation when all parties wish it to happen. There is not one type or degree of openness that is right for every family.

This section includes resources and information on the range of openness options available to help you determine what level of openness might be best for your family. Contact Between Adoptive and Birth Families: The study concludes with implications for the field. Managing Shifting Expectations in Open Adoption Over Time Sink Adoption Advocate , 84 National Council for Adoption Shares the experience of a birth mother participating in an open adoption and how and why her expectations shifted.

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There are two basic levels of openness: fully open and semi-open. Y. In a fully open adoption, you (and/or possibly the birth father and/or other members of your families) may have direct contact with the adoptive But research shows that children in open adoptions understand the different roles that adoptive and birth parents play in their.

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adoption research participation requested. please check dates. Please Take the CUB “OPEN ADOPTION BETRAYAL” Survey New Donaldson Research Survey on the Internet and Adoption. Or check out the available Adoption Research here. Most Recent News from AdoptionLand. Family Preservation.

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How does Open Adoption impact the adopted child, the birthmother, and the adoptive parents? A review of the current research on openness in adoption. Understanding Open Adoption Open adoption can mean different things for different families. Parents should consider their child's needs when deciding on an open adoption. The good news is that recent research debunks many of the myths that once stigmatized openness. Children in open adoptions have no confusion as to who their .

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The Minnesota / Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP) is a longitudinal adoption research study that focuses on how open adoption affects adopted children, birth mothers, and adoptive parents. It was national in scope and followed participants for . Open Adoption and Contact With Birth Family Openness in adoption refers to the amount of contact among birth parents, adoptive parents, and the adopted person. The amount of contact may vary from family to family and, within a .