Adoptees’ Contact with Birth Relatives in Emerging Adulthood

Rachel H. Farr
Holly A. Grant-Marsney
Danila S. Musante
Harold D. Grotevant
Gretchen Miller Wrobel, Bethel University


While openness in adoption has become more common in the United States, little research has examined contact between birth and adoptive families as adoptees become adults. Using quantitative and qualitative data from 167 emerging adult adoptees, factors characterizing contact (e.g., type, frequency, with whom), satisfaction with contact, and the influences of transitional events and significant relationships were explored. Among these variables, satisfaction with contact with birth parents in emerging adulthood was significantly associated with greater openness levels. Four qualitative case studies, representing increasing openness levels with increasing satisfaction, provided illustrations of variability in emerging adult adoptees’ experiences of contact with birth parents. Overall, with regard to openness in adoption, emerging adulthood represents a transitional period marked by substantial individual variation.