Many Faces of Openness in Adoption: Perspectives of Adopted Adolescents and Their Parents

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Adoption Quarterly


Parents and adolescents (mean age, 15.7 years) from 177 adoptive families participating in the second wave of the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project were interviewed about their post-adoption contact arrangements. The sample included families with no contact, stopped contact, contact without meetings, and contact with face-to-face meetings between the adolescent and birth mother. Openness arrangements were dynamic, and different openness arrangements were associated with different experiences and feelings. Adoptive families with contact reported having higher levels of satisfaction about their openness arrangements, experiencing more positive feelings about the birth mother, and possessing more factual and personal knowledge about the birth mother than did families without contact. Adolescents and adoptive mothers in the contact with meetings group reported the greatest satisfaction with their openness arrangements; those with no contact or stopped contact reported the least satisfaction with their arrangements. Participants having no contact were more likely to want the intensity of contact to increase in the future rather than stay the same. Many participants already having contact wanted it to increase in the future. Fewer than 1 percent of all participants wanted to see the intensity of contact decrease.