Open Adoption, Parent Interaction Benefits Kids, Study Says

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Open adoptions, when adoptive families are encouraged to keep up communication with the biological parents, can be of great benefit to the child and the parents who adopted the child, according to a new study.

During most of the last century, adoptions were closed, which is when birth parents place their child in an adoption agency and have no further communication unless or until the child seeks to connect with them when he or she is older.

But in the 1990s, things changed when those who oversaw adoptions noticed the positive results from open adoptions, according to IANS.

"In the past, closed adoptions severely cut off any communication between biological parents and the children they placed for adoption," said Haley Horstman, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri.

The best case scenario, say the findings, is for adoptive parents and biological parents to tell the child his or her adoption story together when the child is ready to hear it. Researchers note that birth parents appreciate the new openness protocol.

"Biological parents in open adoption relationships often feel more secure knowing more about the parents who adopted their children," Horstman added.

The research team analyzed the narratives of 165 adoptive parents and found themes that can help change how biological and adoptive parents communicate with their children.

"It's important to get a sense of what the adoptive parents are saying to birth parents and what they are saying to the adopted child about their biological parents," noted Colleen Colaner, Assistant Professor at the University of Missouri.

The study found that it is the adoptive parents who hold the key to the kind of relationships their adopted kids have with their birth parents. The manner in which they talk to their children will influence the type of relationships they have.

This does not mean that the parents have to become best friends with their child's birth parents, but working on having a good relationship is a benefit to their young one.

The study was published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

Two years ago, Colaner traveled all over Missouri connecting with adoption agencies and creating a network of adoptive parents who were interested in joining in on the research about open adoption. The list of the parents who agreed to participate was critical to the research into "adoption entrance narratives," or the stories parents who have adopted a children tell them about who they are and what their positions are in their new families.

Most of the 165 were mothers who assisted the researchers in seeing commonalities and differences in the ways they communicate with their children.

The study is entitled "She chose us to be your parents – exploring the content and process of adoption entrance narratives told in families formed through open adoption."

On the Adoptive Families website, Eliza Newlin Carney writes that it is crucial for parents, both adoptive and biological, to understand that open adoption is in place to meet the needs of the children, not the adults involved. Open adoption does not take away the feelings that surround adoptive placement, including fear, grief, or insecurity.

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