Birth mothers' perceptions of their parented children's knowledge of and involvement in adoption

Susan M. Henney, Susan Ayers-Lopez, Jami Lyn M. Mack, Ruth McRoy, Harold Grotevant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


An examination of birth mothers' perceptions of the relationship between the children she is parenting and the children she placed for adoption offers unique insight into the life course of openness. In the present study, 94 birth mothers from the United States participated in a semi-structured interview, discussing their oldest parented children's knowledge of and experience with their siblings placed for adoption. Results show that 59 birth mothers have an oldest parented child who is aware of their adopted sibling, although 4 of these do not know their true relationship with the adopted sibling. Of these, 27 had direct contact with the adopted sibling, 4 had indirect contact through the birth mother, and 1 had previous contact that has since ceased. A majority of birth mothers indicated that their oldest parented child would like more contact, direct contact, or more information about the adopted youth. Implications for research and practice with birth mothers and their children separated by adoption are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-129
Number of pages27
JournalAdoption Quarterly
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding for the Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project was provided by the Office of Population Affairs, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Hogg Foundation for Mental Health; National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; University Research Institute of the University of Texas at Austin; William T. Grant Foundation; and Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station to the Principal Investigators of this project, Harold Grotevant and Ruth McRoy. We especially thank the adoptive parents, adopted children, and birth mothers for generously sharing their perspectives with us.

Copyright 2009 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Adoption
  • Birth mother
  • Openness
  • Sibling contact
  • Siblings


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