Journal Article

Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents' Reactions Two Decades Later

Deborah H. Siegel

in Social Work

Published on behalf of National Association of Social Workers

Volume 58, issue 1, pages 43-52
Published in print January 2013 | ISSN: 0037-8046
Published online December 2012 | e-ISSN: 1545-6846 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/sw/sws053
Open Adoption: Adoptive Parents' Reactions Two Decades Later

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Unlike in the past, most adoption agencies today offer birth parents and adoptive parents the opportunity to share identifying information and have contact with each other. To understand the impacts of different open adoption arrangements, a qualitative descriptive study using a snowball sample of 44 adoptive parents throughout New England began in 1988. Every seven years these parents who adopted infants in open adoptions have participated in tape-recorded interviews to explore their evolving reactions to their open adoption experiences. This article reports the results of in-depth interviews with these parents now that their children have reached young adulthood. This longitudinal research illuminates how open adoptions change over the course of childhood and adolescence, parents' feelings about open adoption, challenges that emerge in their relationships with their children's birth families, how those challenges are managed and viewed, and parents' advice for others living with open adoption and for clinical social work practice and policy. Findings reveal that regardless of the type of openness, these adoptive parents generally feel positive about knowing the birth parents and having contact with them, are comfortable with open adoption, and see it serving the child's best interests.

Keywords: adoptive parents; open adoption; reactions

Journal Article.  6102 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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