Relinquishing mothers in adoption

Their long-term adjustment


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Content type
Research report

May 1984

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Of the three principal elements in the adoption process - the child, the natural mother and the adoptive parents - the relinquishing mother has received minimal attention with consequently little being known about her experience of giving up a child for adoption. This study investigates the effects of relinquishing a child on the subsequent adjustment of the mother and looks closely at those factors which helped or hindered the adjustment process. The sample for the study consisted of 213 Australian women who volunteered to participate in the research. The data were obtained by a detailed questionnaire; some participants were interviewed. The study found that the effects of relinquishment on the mother were negative and long- lasting. Thus the research shows clearly that it is inappropriate to view relinquishing mothers as women who have "put the problem behind them". The results of this study have broad implications for adoption practice. Authors suggest that there is a need for greater availability of counselling and support services for relinquishing mothers, both for those who gave up a child in the past and for those currently relinquishing a child. Increased access to information for the relinquishing mother on the present situation of her child is also recommended.


Winkler, R., & van Keppel, M. (1984). Relinquishing mothers in adoption: Their long-term adjustment (Monograph No. 3). Melbourne: Institute of Family Studies.


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