Adoption - Birth family contact

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Adoption in the AIFS library catalogue

Connecting to 'roots': a study of Taiwan and Australian adoption

National Taiwan University, University of Sydney, University of Sydney. Institute of Open Adoption Studies
Sydney, N.S.W. : Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, 2018
Taiwan is one of the main countries for intercountry adoptions to Australia. This paper explores adoptees and their birth and adoptive families' sense and experiences of connection to each other and the methods they employed. It summarises findings from a collaborative study by the National University of Taiwan and the University of Sydney, which involved interviews with birth parents in Taiwan and adoptees and adoptive parents in Australia and focus groups with adoption professionals in both countries. The paper outlines the process of intercountry adoption between these countries and outlines study findings regarding birth parents reasons for relinquishing their child, adoptees' interest in connecting to their birth families or learning more about their birth country, adoptive parents' efforts to support cultural identity development, connections made through initial the information received at adoption, through letters or phone calls, through face to face visits, the use of technology, and the benefits and risks of connection. Globally, there is a movement towards openness and connection in adoption, and this study highlights how the need or desire for connection can change over the life course as well as the barriers to openness in intercountry adoption.

Adoptions Australia 2017-18

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2018.
This series presents the latest data on adoptions of Australian children and children from overseas. This edition presents statistics for the 2017-18 period, along with trends since 1993-94. Sections include: total adoption activity, intercountry adoptions, local adoptions, known child adoptions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and applications and vetoes for contact and information exchange. Information is also presented on relevant legislation and adoption procedures. In 2017-18, 330 adoptions were recorded as finalised. While other types of adoption have declined, 'known child' adoptions have increased over the past decade and comprised 71% of all finalised adoptions in 2017-18 - largely due to a policy change in New South Wales that resulted in a higher number of adoptions from foster care.

Descriptive analysis of foster care adoptions in New South Wales, Australia.

del Pozo de Bolger A, Dunstan D and Kaltner M
Australian Social Work v. 70 no. 4 2017: 477-490
This article provides information on children in care who were adopted by their foster families in New South Wales. It reviews administrative records for 370 such adoptions processed from 2003 to 2014, of a total number of 372, and presents information on child's age at adoption, mental health problems, and post-adoption arrangements for contact with birth families. Most of these children had been placed with their foster families during infancy, though adoption orders usually occurred much later in their lives. The most frequently recorded postadoption arrangement recorded was face-to-face contact, four times a year with mother and siblings.

Adoptions Australia 2016-17

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
Canberra : Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2017.
This series presents the latest data on adoptions of Australian children and children from overseas. Data cover characteristics of adopted children, their parents and adoptive families, as well as applications and vetoes for contact and information exchange, issued immigration visas and intercountry processing times. Trends are compared from 1992/93 to 2016/17. In 2016/17, 315 adoptions were recorded as finalised - an increase of 13% from the previous year which was the lowest number on record and part of a 60% decline in Australia over the past 25 years. However, there has been an increase in 'known child' adoptions, which largely reflects policy change in New South Wales which has resulted in a higher number of adoptions from care.

Birth mothers' experience of open adoption.

Castle P
InPsych: the bulletin of the Australian Psychological Society v. 36 no. 4 Aug 2014
In contemporary practice, the majority of Australian local adoptions are 'open', where the identities of birth parents are made known to adoptees and adoptive families and ongoing contact can be written into adoption orders. However, is this openness of benefit to the relinquishing birth mother, as compared to the closed practices of the past? This article summarises findings from a Victorian study on the experience of open adoptions. Fifteen birth mothers were interviewed, with children aged from under five up to early twenties. It describes contact arrangements, how contact is negotiated, and the birth mothers' experiences and opinions.

Current open adoptions : mothers' perspectives.

Castle P
Hayes, Alan, ed. Higgins, Daryl J., ed. Families, policy and the law : selected essays on contemporary issues for Australia. Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2014. 9781922038487: 47-54
Contact between birth mothers and adoptive families has been legally mandated and practised in Victoria since 1984. The legislation asks mothers to nominate a preferred frequency of contact in the form of face-to-face meetings and information exchange, which, with the agreement of the adoptive parents, is written into the adoption order. This chapter summarises findings from a study of the mothers' experience of mandated contact, focusing on the relationship between the right to have contact and the experience of the contact itself. The chapter describes the contact arrangements, the contact event, the mother's mental health, information exchange vs face-to-face contact, and the role of the adoptive parents and the County Court of Victoria.

Adoption for looked after children: messages from research : an overview of the Adoption Research Initiative

Thomas C
London : BAAF, 2013
The British Department for Education and Skills commissioned the Adoption Research Initiative as part of the evaluation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002. It produced seven studies that addressed the themes of: permanency planning and professional decision-making, linking and matching, adoption support, and the costs of adoption. This overview collates the key findings from Initiative and provides a body of evidence on the effects of earlier attempts to develop an adoption system suited to the adoption of looked after children. It also highlights some of the problems that have endured within the adoption system as it has continued to evolve.

Past adoption experiences : impacts, insights and implications for policy and practice.

Kenny P, Higgins D, Sweid R and Soloff C
Communities, Children and Families Australia v. 7 no. 1 Dec 2013: 35-46
The National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices examined the extent and effects of closed adoptions in Australia, to strengthen the evidence available to governments and service providers in addressing the current needs of those affected. With over 1500 participants, the study results provide an in-depth understanding of the complex and, in many cases, urgent public health needs of those affected. These implications not only include the addressing the effects of ongoing trauma, grief and loss associated with past practices, but also the implications for adopted individuals and subsequent generations who want access to genetic and medical histories. The article highlights the characteristics of practice interventions that study participants deemed necessary to adequately respond to their current needs and, importantly, reflects on the parallels existing between the current adoption and assisted reproduction environments and the lessons needing to be learned from past practices.

Adoptive mothering with openness : an autoethnography writ small.

Rice J
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 6 no. 1 2012: 16p
This article looks at open adoption from the adoptive-mothers' perspective. The author adopted her son 19 years ago and has since endeavoured to include the birth mother in their lives. The article also draws on the author's research into open adoption in Victoria and overseas.

Collaboration in open adoption : the birth mothers' experience.

Castle P
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 6 no. 1 2012: 9p
In 1984, the Victorian Government introduced openness into adoption legislation, allows birth mothers to nominate a preferred frequency of contact or information exchange, with agreement from the adoptive parents. This article investigates the birth mothers' experience of establishing and maintaining contact. Taken from a larger study on post-adoption contact, it draws on interviews with 15 birth mothers in Victoria on the maintenance or breakdown of contact, relations with adoptive parents, and the emotional impact of contact or non-contact.

Reconnecting, reflection, rejection, contact and support groups.

Clare C and Burns L
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 6 no. 1 2012: 16p
VANISH assists people affected by adoption in their search for birth relatives and provides support and guidance throughout the search and reunion stages. It was established by Victorian several self-help and advocacy groups in 1989 and is funded by the state government. This article describes the work of VANISH and the impact of adopting and searching, with reference also to findings from a recent report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies on past-adoption practices.

Past adoption experiences : National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices [Reprint]

Kenny P, Higgins D, Soloff C and Sweid R
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 4 no. 1 2012
This report presents the findings of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices. It examines the past and current support needs of people affected by past adoption practices in Australia, including adopted persons, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and other family members. Drawing on large-scale quantitative surveys and interviews, the study investigated the circumstances of the participants' pregnancy and adoption, the impact of separation and adoption, disclosure of adoption, search and contact, services and supports used over time, and current needs. Many Australian Journal of Adoption readers would have participated in this study, which surveyed 1,528 participants - the majority adoptees - in addition to mothers, fathers, adoptive parents and other family members. The report is re-published here to offer wide exposure to the adoption community.

Past adoption experiences : National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices : executive summary

Kenny P, Higgins D, Soloff C and Sweid R
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2012.
This paper reprints the executive summary of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices report. The study complements the recent Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, by examining the past and current support needs of people affected by past adoption practices in Australia, including adopted persons, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and other family members. Drawing on large-scale quantitative surveys and interviews, the study investigated the circumstances of the participants' pregnancy and adoption, the impact of separation and adoption, disclosure of adoption, search and contact, services and supports used over time, and current needs. Interviews with service providers were also included. The study aims to increase the evidence available to governments to address the current needs of individuals affected by past adoption practices, including information, counselling, search and contact services, and other supports.

Past adoption experiences : National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices

Kenny P, Higgins D, Soloff C and Sweid R
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2012.
This report presents the findings of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices. It complements the recent Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, by examining the past and current support needs of people affected by past adoption practices in Australia, including adopted persons, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and other family members. Drawing on large-scale quantitative surveys and interviews, the study investigated the circumstances of the participants' pregnancy and adoption, the impact of separation and adoption, disclosure of adoption, search and contact, services and supports used over time, and current needs. Interviews with service providers were also included. The study aims to increase the evidence available to governments to address the current needs of individuals affected by past adoption practices, including information, counselling, search and contact services, and other supports.

A community of suffering : Australian stories about 'forced adoption'.

Quartly M
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 3 no. 2 2011: 4p
The History of Adoption project is now nearing the end of its third year, and we are coming to the end of our period of research. Next year will be devoted mainly to the writing of the history of adoption which will be the major product of the project. Team members have been busy presenting papers to conferences: to the Australian Historical Association in Perth, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in Massachusetts, the Oral History Association of Australia in Melbourne, and the Australasian Welfare History Workshop in New Zealand. We have also given presentations to several adoption interest groups, and made a submission to the Senate Inquiry into Forced Adoption Practices. And we have gathered a large body of research documents from across Australia. We have had useful conversations with several publishers about the shape of our book. With their encouragement we have decided to leave academic language and referencing for the papers we publish in academic journals, and to write the book for as wide an audience as possible. It will focus on current issues in adoption, setting them in their historical context. Our tentative title is 'The Market in Babies: A History of Adoption in Australia'. With our research closing down, we will close the website - www.arts.monash.edu.au/historyofadoption/ - at the end of the current month, November 2011. The stories already posted will continue to be available at this address. The accompanying article provides some insight into these stories and their significance for the story teller. (Publisher abstract)

Adoption separation : then and now

Robinson E
Christies Beach, S. Aust. : Clova Publications, 2010.
This book explores the impact of adoptions on relinquishing mothers in the last century and the social and policy changes that have been taking place this century. Part one features the stories of relinquishing mothers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. In their own words, they explain how they became pregnant, the pressures involved in their decision to adopt, the impact of this decision on their lives, and any contact with their child in adulthood. Part two considers recent changes in attitudes to adoption and unmarried motherhood, government recognition of the trauma of forced adoption practices, and how different countries manage adoptions today.

Adopted women become parents : a pilot study.

Conrick J and Brown T
Children Australia v. 35 no. 4 2010: 31-36
Becoming a parent and mother is 'the irreversible crossing of the boundary from being someone's (daughter) to becoming someone's mother' and what we know of this transition for adopted women is still primarily anecdotal. Many women adopted during and after the 1970s in Victoria are still in the parenting life stage, and this paper describes the experiences of three of them. The women participated in qualitative, in-depth interviews that were part of a Master of Social Work research study. This article primarily takes a life course approach in eliciting themes of normative family experiences, delay of identity consolidation until the time of childbearing, the impact of search, reunion and divided loyalties, and the negotiation of multiple family systems (adoptive, in-law and birth). The management of these complex phenomena have demanded a high level of skill and effort by these women as they cope with their own emotional reactions, continue to be responsive mothers and assist their children and partners to negotiate new, extended, family relationships. The study draws attention to and provides insight for practitioners in this hidden area of welfare and indicates the need for further research.

Belonging and permanence : outcomes in long-term foster care and adoption

Biehal N
London : BAAF, 2010.
"This book reports the findings of a study which compared three types of permanent placement: adoption by strangers, adoption by carers and long-term foster care. It considers how best to meet the needs of children who cannot safely be reunited with their parents and how to provide emotional and legal security, a sense of permanence and positive outcomes. This study explores the different pathways that children follow through, and in some cases out of, care. It considers a range of outcomes; compares placement stability and the emotional, behavioural and relationship difficulties of children in each type of placement; their participation and progress in education and the nature of their contact with birth families."

Birth fathers' perspectives on reunions with their relinquished children.

Passmore N and Coles G
Hazelwood, Z J, ed. Connecting research and practice in relationships : proceedings of the APS Psychology of Relationships Interest Group 9th Annual Conference. Melbourne : Australian Psychological Society, 2009: 35-41
As part of a larger study, 20 birth fathers from Australia and overseas were surveyed regarding their contact or reunion experiences with their children. In all cases, the children had been relinquished for adoption as infants and were now adults. Qualitative data were analysed to identify themes that were associated with satisfying or dissatisfying aspects of the contact or reunion experiences. The first contact was typically associated with strong emotional responses. A degree of mutuality, in which the adoptee also wanted contact, was helpful in establishing a positive first contact experience for the birth father. Satisfying ongoing reunion relationships were associated with regular contact, shared experiences, and close, supportive relationships. Less satisfying reunions sometimes involved less contact, a mismatch of the birth fathers' and adoptees' needs, and difficulties with the developing relationships. As birth fathers with positive reunion experiences were overrepresented in this study, more research is needed to further elucidate factors that contribute to dissatisfying reunions. Further research would also benefit from more in-depth interview data. Implications of the findings for adoption practitioners are discussed.

Reunions of adoptees who have met both birth parents : post-reunion relationships and factors that facilitate and hinder the reunion process.

Passmore N and Feeney J
Adoption Quarterly v. 12 no. 2 2009: 100-119
This article explores the relationships developed by adoptees and their birth parents later in life. It presents findings from a survey of 18 adults who were adopted as children and who had since formed relationships with both their birth mother and birth father. It discusses whether they formed personal and nonpersonal relationships with their birth parents and the individual characteristics and supports that influenced or hindered reunions. The implications for counselling are also briefly discussed.

Adoptees in reunion : the psychological integration of adoption, motivations for reunion, and the reunion relationship.

Rogers S
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 1 no. 2 2009: 100p
The study aimed to explore adult adoptees' integration of their adoptions over the lifespan. It utilised retrospective reports of adoptees' childhood experiences of secrecy pertaining to adoption and the impact of this on integrating being adopted. It explored the initial motivations for searching for birth parents and the relationship roles adopted in reunion, and whether deeper motivations for searching emerged when adoptees described what their reunion relationship meant to them. Twelve participants were recruited: all grew up in the closed adoption system. The study revealed that, typically, although told of their adoption as children, thereafter the adoptees were bound by secrecy and this affected their ability to integrate the full meaning of their adoptions. More aware and meaningful connection to their adoption experience emerged in adulthood when they underwent the process of search and reunion. The need for medical information, and identity consolidation, were the most commonly reported motivations for seeking reunion, and were a valuable aspect of reunion. However, ultimately, the most important aspects of reunion for the adoptee participants were the relational bonds and connection to their birth mothers (and other family members) as well as a sense of belonging within a genetic continuum.

Siblings in adoption or foster care : traumatic separations and honored connections

Silverstein D and Smith S
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, c2009.
Sibling relationships are usually the longest in our lives. When a child loses contact with their parents and also their siblings, it can be a doubly traumatic experience for them. This happens in thousands of cases every year - children separated from their siblings and sent to different foster families or adopted by different families. This book looks at how children are traumatized in this way and discusses the importance of sustaining the bonds between brothers and sisters. Preserving these connections could be the single most important factor in the health and resilience of these children. It also looks at children's legal rights in this area and mental health policies and procedures to support the relationships. It covers biological and non-biological siblings and siblings in kinship families.

Adoption from care : a New South Wales response.

Best R
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 22 Summer 2008: 12-16
The paramount decision regarding permanent adoption of children in care is the welfare and wellbeing of the child. This article explores the similarities and differences in the adoption of children in the child protection system in England and New South Wales. It outlines the concurrent development of laws and highlights the differences between the two systems, chiefly: differences between the numbers of children adopted (and the rates of adoption); the high proportion of Indigenous children in care in NSW and the issues arising from this; the structure of the courts in deciding adoption matters; the involvement of the birth parents; the selection of adoptive parents; and contact between the child and the birth family. Societal factors that may contribute to some of the differences are also discussed.

Safeguarding the rights and well-being of birthparents in the adoption process

Smith S
New York : Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2007.
The primary objective of this study was to learn as much as possible about the birthparents of adopted children in order to determine how laws, policies and professional practices affect them; what essential rights they should be afforded; and what reforms are needed to optimise their well-being. It found that contemporary relinquishing parents want to help choose their children's new parents through profiling, to meet the adoptive parents, and to have ongoing contact with or knowledge about their children's circumstances. The primary factor in achieving lower levels of grief, adjustment and peace of mind in birthparents is knowledge about their children's well-being.

Does opening adoption records have an adverse social impact? Some lessons from the U.S., Great Britain, and Australia, 1953-2007.

Carp E
Adoption Quarterly v. 10 no. 3/4 Oct 2007: 29-52
There have been calls for greater openness in adoption records over the last few decades, with governments responding with various laws that try to balance openness, privacy, and confidentiality between birth parents, adult adopted children, and adoptive parents. However, these reforms have not been without opposition and fears over invasions of privacy and family disruption. This article investigates whether inaugurating adoption disclosure systems - specifically contact preference forms and contact vetoes - leads to harmful social results, using use historical data from the United States, England and Wales, and Australia from 1953-2007. The findings indicate that opening adoption records in this manner provides a balanced adoption disclosure system.

Supporting the birth relatives of adopted children and supporting post adoption contact in complex cases

Sellick C
Norwich, England : Researching Adoption Support Project, University of East Anglia, 2007.
This paper summarises a mapping survey of birth relative and contact support services in England and Wales. The Adoption and Children Act 2002 required significant policy, practice and financial changes in the provision of birth relative and contact support services, and are now being evaluated. The mapping survey aimed to describe the range of birth relative and contact support services provided by adoption agencies, and to examine the costing and commissioning, and the accessibility of these services.

The 'comfort of kinship': a larger view of adoption loss.

Cohen M
Adoption Australia Spring 2007 13-15
The Primal Wound theory is predicated on the idea that the birth mother is irreplaceable to the infant. Belief in the theory can lead adoptees and birth mothers to an unrealistic expectation that the harm suffered through adoption loss will be healed by reconnecting the mother and child, and that the post reunion relationship will be close and meaningful. In this article the author presents her views on adoption loss and how to deal with it. She argues that adoptee pain is caused by loss of one's whole clan, not just the broken maternal bond. Once adoptees have become adult, they need to take responsibility for their own relationships and actions, as do their birth mothers and families.

Adoption, attachment, and relationship concerns: a study of adult adoptees.

Feeney J, Passmore N and Peterson C
Personal Relationships v. 14 no. 1 Mar 2007 129-147
This study examines the extent to which adoption is a risk factor for later insecure attachment in adulthood, and whether this is affected by parent bonding or reunions with birth parents. 144 adult adoptees and 131 non-adoptees were surveyed on insecurity, anxiety, parental bonding, and any reunion experiences. The study found that though adoptees had high levels of insecurity, attachment was more important than adoptive status in predicting relationship variables, and had a mediating effect on some of the adoptees traits. The results support the usefulness of attachment thoery in understanding the relationship concerns of adoptees.

The adoption triangle revisited : a study of adoption, search and reunion experiences

Triseliotis J, Feast J and Kyle F
London : BAAF, 2005.
"Based on the experiences of 93 adoptive parents, 93 birth mothers, 126 adopted people and a small sample of birth fathers, this book presents the findings of a study that took place in early 2000, providing a comprehensive picture of the adoption experience and the impact and outcome of the search and reunion process for all the key players."

Relationships between adult attachment style, adoptees' motives for searching, and reunion satisfaction with birthmothers.

Passmore N, Feeney J and Peterson C
Bowles, Terry, ed. The good, the bad, and the ugly in personal, national and international relationships : proceedings of the Australian Psychology Society's Psychology of Relationships Interest Group 5th Annual Conference. Melbourne : Australian Psychological Society, 2005: 115-119
This paper investigates the relationship between attachment style and motive for searching among adult adoptees who had searched for their birth families, as well as the impact of attachment style on reunion outcomes. Participants were 109 adoptees who had previously searched for or were currently searching for birth family, including 57 adoptees who had had a face-to-face reunion with their birth mother. The main hypothesis of the study was that searching in order to resolve perosnal issues would correlate more to an insecure attachment style and need for approval.
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