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Adoption Research Paper

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Open Adoption: A Growing Trend in the U.S.

In the last four decades, the concept of the American family has undergone a radical transformation, reflecting societyЎЇs growing openness. Among all segments of society, there is a greater acceptance of a variety of family structures ЁC from single parenting to blended families to same sex parenting of children. The introduction of openness into the process of adoption offers new opportunities for children in need of a parent or parents and prospective parents wishing to create or expand their families. Meeting the requirements to become eligible to adopt no longer means being constrained by the conventions of an earlier generation.

As defined in Children of Open Adoption by Kathleen Silber and Patricia Martinez Dorner (Silber and Dorner, pg 9):

Open adoption includes the birthparents and adoptive parents meeting one another, sharing full identifying information, and having access to ongoing contact over the years. . . .In open adoption, the birthfamily is extended family, like other relatives within the adoptive family.

Current statistics show that open adoptions are increasing in the United States. Despite the challenges and emotional issues involved in open adoption, its incidence is growing and providing a means for families to share their lives in different ways and allowing adoptive children to feel positive about themselves and about adoption.


Statistics show that the rate of adoption has grown since the 1900s. In 1944, about 50,000 adoptions took place in the U.S. The greatest known number of adoptions took place in 1970 when 175,000 children were adopted. Currently, there is only limited statistical information on U.S. adoptions. (Child Welfare Information Par. 2) The most complete statistics were gathered by the National Center for Social Statistics (NCSS) from 1957 through 1975. Most new statistical information about adoption is being gathered and analyzed by private organizations, through private surveys and research. (National Adoption Information Clearinghouse,

States with the highest number of adoptions are states with greater populations, with California, New York, and Texas generally leading the nation. In 2000 about 9,054 adoptions took place in the state of California alone. (Child Welfare Information par. 1) In 2001, New York had the highest number of adoptions with 10,209 cases. In 69% of public and private agency adoptions, the birth parents had met the adoptive couple. (Berry, 1991)

Societal attitudes toward adoption have made great advances since the 1900s, both in the understanding of the complexities of adoption and the acceptance of adoption as a positive path for children. It is estimated that about 1 million children in the United States live with adoptive parents, and that between 2% to 4% of American families include an adopted child. (Stolley, 1993)

The majority of Americans are personally affected by adoption. A 1997 survey by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Insititute found that 6 in 10 Americans have had personal experience with adoption, meaning that they themselves, a family member, or a close friend was adopted, had adopted a child, or had placed a child for adoption. (Evan B. Donaldson Institute, 1997)

Understanding Adoption

Along with adoption come stereotypes and myths which can make it difficult for parents to want or to be able to adopt. Some people assume that itЎЇs harder to love a child whose not of the own parentЎЇs blood. But sometimes it seems as though adoptive parents love their child even more when their child is adopted. People also assume that children who are adopted are insecure, poorly adjusted and more prone to behavioral problems than other children.(Institution for Adoption, Russ Logan par. 4) Most of the time people donЎЇt understand the pressure and guilt that the birthmother has to endure when making the decision to give up her baby. When a mother becomes pregnant there is a lot of pressure from parents, family and professionals to give up the child. It can be extremely difficult for a mother to be unselfish and do whatЎЇs best for her baby but she eventually learns to have flexibility. After the mother gives birth and picks a family for her child there is always the option of open adoption.

Open adoption actively involves the three affected parties ЁC birthparents, child, and adoptive parents. The adoptive parents want a child of their own to care for and to love as their own but on the other hand the birthparents are feeling guilt and sadness at the loss of their child and might want to see their child on a regular basis. There are a lot of things to consider during the process of adoption.

Pros and Cons of Open Adoption

Adoption is a big decision for birthparents (and adoptive parents). There are so many factors to consider when putting a child up for adoption and also when adopting a child. A majority of the time the birth father isnЎЇt even considered in the decision. Birthparents often begin to second guess their decision of adoption usually after the birth of their child. They get attached instantly and donЎЇt want to give the child up. There are lots of pros and cons and some people donЎЇt even consider when they make comments about adoptive parents and children and open adoption.

In 1982, Kathleen Silber and Phyllis Speedlin wrote a groundbreaking book about open adoptions, ÐŽoDear Birthmother, Thank You For Our Baby.ÐŽ± This book opened an ongoing dialog on the subject of open adoption. The authors present open adoption as being child-centered and about love, honesty, trust, and communication. It is about making a lifelong commitment ЁC and it isnЎЇt easy. No lifetime



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