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.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding was provided by National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant R01-HD-049859, National Science Foundation grant BCS-0443590, and William T. Grant Foundation grant 7146. During the preparation of this article, the authors were supported by funds from the Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
- adoptive families
- emerging adulthood
- openness arrangements