Adolescent sibling narratives regarding contact in adoption

Jerica M. Berge, Kevin M. Green, Harold D. Grotevant, Ruth G. McRoy

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13 Scopus citations


Although it is common for adoptive families to have multiple adopted children with varying levels of birthfamily contact, research has not studied the effects of differing levels of contact status on the sibling dynamics within the adoptive family. This study examines the experiences of 58 non-biologically related adopted siblings (ages 13-18) who have varying levels of birthfamily contact. Deductive thematic analysis was conducted on interviews from adopted siblings and corresponding birthmothers. For adopted siblings in which both siblings had birthfamily contact, results indicated that it was common for siblings to cross over in contact with both birthfamilies, and to view the respective birthmothers as friends. These adopted adolescents also saw conversations about adoption as a vehicle for closeness with their adopted sibling.When one sibling had contact with his or her birthfamily and the other did not, results indicated that the adolescent with no contact looked forward to contact with his or her sibling's birthfamily, and viewed them as friends. It was also found that for the majority of these adopted adolescents, mixed levels of birthfamily contact within their adoptive family did not increase animosity between siblings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)81-103
Number of pages23
JournalAdoption Quarterly
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 19 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors wish to acknowledge grant support from a number of agencies, without which they would not have been able to carry out this program of work: The William T. Grant Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Office of Population Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health; the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station, the Center for Interpersonal Relationships Research, University of Minnesota, and the University Research Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.


  • Adopted siblings
  • Birthfamily contact
  • Narratives
  • Openness in adoption


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