Research on Open Adoption

Picture of an adopted new born infant with her adoptive mother on a blanket in a park
Research on open adoption began as early as the 1970s. Through that time, closed adoptions were more common. As the children grew, they wanted to meet their birth parents. They also wanted to find ways to change the system so that more children and birth mothers could know one another even after the adoption was completed.

The 1980s and 1990s were the periods in which open adoption were studied in the greatest depth. Findings about adoption, whether they were Christian open adoptions or secular ones, have been very positive. In fact, studies show that almost every child is psychologically healthier in open adoptions than counterparts in closed ones. The reason for this is the simple realization that the birth mother cares enough to spend time, no matter how small, getting to know the child.

In most cases of closed Christian adoptions, birth mothers do not choose to cut off contact because they do not want to know the child. Historically, birth parents felt forced into closed adoption. There was shame associated with placing a child rather than rearing him or her oneself. That shame was then passed on. The adopted child was left feeling unwanted and, in some ways, like there is something wrong with them. In most cases, children of closed adoptions still desired and sought out a connection with birth parents.

Oppositely, children in open adoptions know exactly how loved they are. They are aware of the situation the birth mother was in during the pregnancy. They can ask questions of her, learn more about her and even come into contact with biological siblings.

Studies have also been conducted on the relationship between adoptive parents and children. All of those involved have found that an open adoption in no way interferes with the family relationship. Parents do not feel distanced from their children when they share time with the biological family. Children do not feel any less connection to their adoptive parents when they get to know the birth mom. They grow up aware that their parents did not biologically give birth to them, but they also grow up knowing that being a parent is not about blood and biology. It is about time, patience, concern and compassion.

Thanks to the repeat positive responses from these research studies, open adoption is the most common form of domestic adoption today. In fact, it is now rare that birth moms choose not to have some form of contact with the children. This should lead to a bright future of happy families.