Evolution and resolution: Birthmothers' experience of grief and loss at different levels of adoption openness

Susan M. Henney, Susan Ayers-Lopez, Ruth G. McRoy, Harold D. Grotevant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article explores birthmothers' experiences of grief and loss over time across the continuum of openness in adoption. Data were collected by structured interview at two points in time: 4-12 years postplacement (169 birthmothers) and 12-20 years postplacement (127 birthmothers). At Wave 1 a majority of the birthmothers were experiencing moderate to high degrees of grief. However, by Wave 2 a similar majority reported feeling some or no feelings of grief. Birthmothers in fully disclosed adoptions tended to have lower levels of grief than those in confidential adoptions at Wave 2. Overall, the results suggest that the "right amount" of openness for a birthmother may change over the life course. Implications for practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)875-889
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Volume24
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2007

Keywords

  • Adoption
  • Birthmother
  • Grief
  • Loss
  • Openness
  • Openness in adoption

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