New Adoption Study Shows Direct Contact Between Adoptive Families and Birthmothers Results in Greater Birthmother Satisfaction
October 7, 2002
The research by Dr. Ruth McRoy of the School of Social Work and Dr. Harold Grotevant of the University of Minnesota looked at a group of birthmothers, adoptive parents, adopted children/adolescents and service providers - a total of 721 individuals and 35 agencies - during a span of 13 years (1987-2000). The study involved interview as well as survey data, making it unique.
In the research,
McRoy looked at birthmothers and Grotevant studied the adopted children
and adoptive parents. Despite the fact that adoption practices have changed
dramatically during the past decade in the United States, there has been
virtually no research on the consequences of variations in adoption arrangements
for individuals, relationships and families involved, said McRoy.
The degree of openness included in the study ranges from confidential (no exchange of information) to mediated sharing (sharing of information typically mediated by the adoption agency) to fully disclosed adoptions (involving direct sharing of information with meetings between adoptive family and birthparent).
In the new phase of the study, "Adoption Openness: Longitudinal Birthmother Outcomes," McRoy reported that birthmothers in the sample experienced significant changes in openness over a seven-year period of time. Of the 127 birthmothers in the sample, 50 experienced a change in openness level, with 29 (58 percent) experiencing an increase in openness level and 21 (42 percent) experiencing a decrease.
The findings also show that birthmothers in direct contact with the adoptive family report greater satisfaction with openness, lower levels of grief about the placement and more satisfaction with their role in relationship to the adopted youth. However, birthmothers in every level type of adoption were able to describe satisfactions and stressors with their level of openness.
The findings regarding openness 12-20 years after the adoption placement support the findings from McRoy and Grotevant's earlier study that no one type of adoption fits every person's wants and needs.
"Birthmothers in fully disclosed adoptions are more satisfied with their birthmother role in relation to the adopted youth than those with no current contact," said McRoy, who has been studying openness in adoption since 1985. "Those in the 'confidential and stopped mediated with updates' categories have the lowest average satisfaction with the role.
"In short, we have found that for most birthmothers, the more open the adoption, the greater the birthmother's satisfaction," McRoy said.
The findings regarding
openness 12-20 years after the adoption placement support the findings
from McRoy and Grotevant's earlier study that no one type of adoption
fits every person's wants and needs.
Adoption, said the researchers, should be viewed as an ongoing process rather than a one-time event.
The project was initiated with funding from the federal Office of Population Affairs of the Department of Health and Human Services. Additional funding was provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, W.T. Grant Foundation and the University Research Institute.
For more information contact: Nancy Neff, Office of Public Affairs, 512-471-6504.
- back -