Openness in Adoption and the Impact on Birth Mother Plans for Search and Reunion
In an era of easy access to information through electronic means and greater openness in adoptions, contact between adopted adults and their birth parents likely will increase. This study on adoption openness explores the decision-making processes of 127 birth mothers about their roles in their birth children’s lives. Analyses were conducted to determine if planned searches by birth mother for adopted children were related to their age, marital status, parenting status, and, significantly, the level of adoption openness (fully disclosed, mediated, or confidential), with one result being that openness increased the likelihood of a search. The majority of the reasons birth mothers gave for not initiating a search were in the “best interest of the child” category, so the child’s feelings toward contact and adoptive parent endorsement are key factors in the decision-making process. Birth parents who would like to have a reunion but are reluctant to initiate a search can be assisted with their use of adoption registries that are available in many states. Information about reasons birth mother would or would not initiate a search can help adopted adults make more informed decisions about initiating a search, placing information on a registry, or responding to birth parent initiations.
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