AdoptMatch | Research Spotlight: The Benefits of Open Adoption

Research Spotlight: The Benefits of Open Adoption


While adoption itself is not a new concept (dating all the way back to biblical times), the practice of “openness” in adoption is a more recent, yet, important change that came about during the 1980’s and ‘90’s. Today, the clear majority of adoptions contain at least some degree of openness. Even so, there are still many misconceptions and misunderstandings about what open adoption is and what the benefits are.

The Donaldson Adoption Institute has conducted multiple research studies about adoption. One 2012 study focuses on the benefits of open adoption. Listed below are some of the basic facts about open adoption today as well as the significant findings for each of the members of the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents, and, most importantly, the child):

Facts About Open Adoption:

Benefits of Open Adoption:

In general, greater openness in adoption is associated with greater satisfaction amongst the triad members with the adoption process. As with any relationship, there are varying experiences that involve levels of discomfort and challenges, but in general, most people in open adoptive relationships appear to thrive and react positively to the openness. This is especially true when open relationships are built upon mutual empathy and respect and centered around the child.



The primary benefit of openness in adoption is for the adoptee. Openness provides access to his/her access to birth relatives, as well as his/her own medical, genealogical and family histories. Some additional benefits that have been identified by adoptees include:

Another benefit of open adoption is that it allows adoptees to gain a better understanding of the meaning of adoption and more active communication about adoption with their adoptive parents.


Birth Parents

Birth Mothers who have ongoing contact with their children generally experience better grief resolution in open adoptions compared to those in closed adoptions. Dealing with ongoing feelings of grief and loss many years after the adoption is a common challenge for birth mothers, however those in open adoptions with continuing contact reported less grief as well as less worry and regret about their decision to place. Additionally, birth mothers in open adoptions report more relief and peace of mind and also experience positive adjustment and self-efficacy after the placement. An open relationship allows them to feel like a resource for their child and gives them a sense of contributing to their child’s well-being.


Adoptive Parents

Perhaps surprising to some is that adoptive parents overall report more positive experiences with open adoption than the parents in closed adoptions. They report high levels of comfort with contact and generally feel free to parent their child without fear of losing them to the birth parents. Open adoptions help create greater feelings of empathy and more positive attitudes towards the birth parents. Additionally, adoptive parents report more open communication with their children and also perceive benefits for their relationships with their children.


The research indicates that all parents (both birth and adoptive) should receive thorough counseling and training on open adoption, with a focus on strategies for working through tensions and maintaining a child-centered focus.


At AdoptMatch, we are strong advocates of open adoption and maintaining contact throughout the lifespan of the adoption. The research demonstrates that open communication is beneficial for all triad members. Our Adoption Professional partners are committed to thoroughly planning for the post adoption contact relationship prior to the adoption and, in most cases, advocate a clear, written agreement concerning that contact.


To read more of the research findings, you can find the article here.