Contact after adoption
A longitudinal study of post-adoption contact arrangements
Publication date: 2015
ISBN: 978 1 910039 335
Legislation states that contact between an adopted child and his or her birth relatives must be considered and discussed in the child’s placement plan. A key consideration in decisions about contact should be the child’s welfare; it is important therefore to understand how contact affects adopted children throughout their lives. Existing research evidence has found that the impact and quality of contact can vary widely – in some cases it is wanted and valued by children, but in others, it can have an unsettling and disturbing effect. There is also very little research that has included the views of older children and adolescents.
Contact after adoption presents the comprehensive findings of a longitudinal study that followed up a group of adopted children, their adoptive parents and birth relatives, where some form of post-adoption contact was planned. The findings are of particular importance due to the study’s duration – the children, all placed under the age of four, have been followed through preschool, middle childhood and into later adolescence.
The key aims of the study were to explore people’s experiences of contact and its impact on children and adults. A strong body of evidence has been collected about the impact of open adoption on all those involved, and on how children’s experiences of and need for contact change as they grow and develop.
Contact after adoption makes an important contribution to the existing research on contact and offers practice recommendations that will be invaluable to all those involved in making or managing contact with children and families.
About the authors
Elsbeth Neil is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work and Director of Research in the School of Social Work at the University of East Anglia. Elsbeth began this study in 1996 and has directed all three stages.
Mary Beek is a registered social worker and a professional adviser for Care for Children, where she facilitates the training of foster carers for children in the Far East. For many years, she has combined practice with research and writing.
Emma Ward, after completing her PhD in Social Work, has worked as a researcher on a wide range of projects at the University of East Anglia.
This concise report presents a summary of the key findings of the Contact after Adoption research study. It includes the views and experiences of adoptive families, birth relatives and young people who have been adopted.