Contact between adoptive and birth families: Perspectives from the Minnesota/Texas adoption research project

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Child Development Perspectives


A growing number of adoptive families have contact with their children's birth relatives. The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project is examining longitudinally the consequences of variations in contact arrangements for birth mothers, adoptive parents, and adopted children in domestic infant adoptions, and is studying the dynamics of relationships within these family systems. Individuals who had contact were more satisfied with their arrangements than those who did not have contact. Satisfaction with contact predicted more optimal adjustment among adopted adolescents and emerging adults. Adoption-related communication predicted identity development among adopted adolescents and emerging adults. Birth mothers who were more satisfied with their contact arrangements, regardless of level of contact, had less unresolved grief 12-20 years after placement. Adoptive and birth relatives who engage in contact need flexibility, strong interpersonal skills, and commitment to the relationship. These skills can be learned, and they can be supported by others, through informal, psychoeducational, and therapeutic means. © 2013 The Society for Research in Child Development.

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