Recent NIH study on open adoption

The current issue of Adoptive Families magazine (September/October) has a helpful article for people who are preparing to become parents through adoption.

The article is not available online, so I’m posting some tidbits here. You can then can go to your local bookstore and get the issue. Or subscribe here (clicking on the cover photo will take you to Amazon) and have it delivered to you bi-monthly for the next year.

The article, The Birthparent Perspective, offers initial results from a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. “The study recruited 360 sets of linked birthparents, adoptive parents, and adopted children, rather than putting out a call for volunteers, and this means greater accuracy in results.” Here are some highlights:

  • The majority of birthparents were aged 22-32
  • Point of pregnancy at which expectant mother began working with an agency: 1st trimester: 17%. 2nd trimester: 37%. 3rd trimester: 35%. After delivery: 11%.
  • The three most important factors (by far) in choosing adoptive parents are (1) educational opportunities for the child, (2) a close marital relationship, and (3) financial security. [I take this to mean stable rather than wealthy.]
  • Three qualities historically emphasized by agencies — physical resemblance to birth family, stay-at-home mom, and similar religious background — are less important today.
  • “As time goes on,” says the article, “33% of birthmothers would like more openness 3-6 months postpartum, and that figure increases to 38% by 18 months postpartum.” Adoptive fathers, while less desiring of openness, also increase the amount of contact they want as time passes.
  • Almost no one wants less contact. “The good news is that almost everyone — birthparents and adoptive parents alike — reports being satisfied with openness during the first and second year of the child’s life.”
  • And this: “Openness significantly correlates with satisfaction and post-adoption adjustment among birth and adoptive families alike.”
  • Finally, this from one researcher, who is also an adoptee: “The more you talk with your children in an open, positive way about the fact that they were adopted, the less of a problem it will be for them.”

The study will follow the families for at least four more years.

The magazine itself polled families across the US to find out how open AF readers are, on average. (Note: these are self-selected participants, which can skew results positive.) Some of these findings on adoptive parents:

  • 44% were matched during the third trimester, and 33% at the hospital or after the birth
  • 37% characterized their adoption as very open
  • 23% say that since the child was born, the adoption has become more open. 51% say it has stayed the same.
  • 58% would like the openness to stay the same. 39% want it to be more open.

There is much more of interest in this article, and I recommend you get your hand on the issue soon.

Heather PNR and triad are part of the NIH study. She reports that a link to the study (called “Bridging the Divide”) can be found here.

12 thoughts on “Recent NIH study on open adoption”

  1. thanks for sharing this article, lori. I’ve been meaning to pick it up. I’m happy to hear there are some longer term studies on open adoption out there. another one I saw said that 90% of firstparents (birthmothers in particular) wanted some form of ongoing contact. thanks again!

  2. hmmm….very interesting. since we’re about to start the adoption process, maybe i can talk DH into a subscription. thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the article. As an adoptive parent, with an open adoption, I am happy to hear the idea of more openess for everyone. My son’s birthmom-Kim, waited until she was 8 months pregnant before deciding what to do. She is incredible; a great person, now a teacher and someone I admire to the ends of the earth. As with Lori, after the infertility experiments I went through, I could not imagie life without my son. HeartMommy

  4. Thanks for sharing this. I’ve recently begun to just toy with the idea of adoption as a possibility for our family at some point in the future. Do you have suggestions for where I might start in terms of getting info on the basics?

  5. Here from LFCA@ The Muser, I found the book <>Beating the Adoption Odds<> by Dru Martin and Cynthia Martin Groves to be very helpful. The title’s stupid (IMO), but the book provides a nice overview of the different types of adoption and what each has to offer (both pros & cons).

  6. That’s really interesting, does the magazine article tell you the names of the researchers (NIH will have funded it but probably not carried it out)?

  7. Our family (including my son’s first mom) is part of that study. 🙂Anyone interested in reading the original journal article published by the researchers in <>Adoption Quarterly<> (or a bunch of other studies of open adoption) can find a link to it over at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Open Adoption Support<>.

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