Trajectories of birth family contact in domestic adoptions

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Journal of Family Psychology


Emotional distance regulation theory (Broderick, 1993; Grotevant, 2009) guided this examination of the changes in family structure and process in adoptive kinship networks experiencing different arrangements of contact between birth and adoptive family members. Group-based trajectory modeling was used to reveal four trajectories of postadoption contact experienced between adoptive and birth family members in adoptive kinship networks of same-race, domestic infant adoptions. Data were drawn from the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project, a study of 190 adoptive families and 169 birth mothers followed across four longitudinal waves (middle childhood, adolescence, emerging adulthood, young adulthood). Three aspects of the birth family adoptive family relationship measured at four times were used to create the groups: frequency of contact between the adopted person and birth mother, satisfaction of the adopted person with the openness arrangements, and number of adoptive and birth family members involved in the contact. Four trajectory groups emerged: no contact (41.6% of sample), stopped contact (13.7%), limited contact (26.3%), and extended contact (18.4%). Group membership was validated by coders who matched interview transcripts with group descriptions at levels significantly above chance. Knowledge of trajectories will assist professionals providing postadoption services.

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