Adoption has had a profound impact on the lives of millions of people. To improve the experiences and outcomes for everyone involved, it is crucial to listen to and learn from those who have personally walked the adoption journey.
NCFA conducted research aiming to shed light on the experiences of birth parents in private domestic adoption in the United States and identify areas for improvement in services and support.
Birth parents represent a diverse population in terms of race/ethnicity, education, and age. The study reveals that birth parents come from various racial and ethnic backgrounds, with the majority being non-Hispanic White. Education levels vary, but a significant proportion of birth parents have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher. The age range of birth parents at the time of adoption placement and survey completion is wide, spanning from late teens to middle age.
The research highlights birth parents’ satisfaction levels with their adoption decision. The majority of birth parents reported being satisfied with their choice, with non-coerced decision-making and receipt of accurate information playing key roles in their satisfaction. However, a significant percentage of birth mothers and fathers expressed dissatisfaction or neutrality about their adoption decision. Stigma associated with birth parents still exists, and the perception of stigma has increased over time, possibly due to more open adoption practices. Birth parents reject this stigma and emphasize that their decision to place a child for adoption is an act of love, not neglect.
Support for Expectant Parents: The study emphasizes the importance of support for expectant parents considering adoption. Family and friends, as well as adoption professionals and organizations, play crucial roles in providing the necessary support during the decision-making process. Unfortunately, some birth parents reported having no one to turn to for support, highlighting the need for improved support systems and resources for expectant parents.
Birth parents expressed a desire for post-placement support, particularly in the form of contact with their child and the adoptive family. Openness in adoption and the adoptive parents’ commitment to maintaining a relationship were significant factors for birth mothers when choosing adoptive parents. Although a significant percentage of birth parents have contact with their child, there is still room for improvement in post-adoption services and support. Birth parent support groups were identified as a vital resource for birth mothers, facilitating connections with others who share similar experiences.
Based on the research findings, several recommendations are made to improve the adoption process and support for birth parents. These recommendations include:Conducting further research on birth parent experiences, including the perspectives of birth fathers and those with mixed levels of satisfaction.
Addressing and mitigating the stigma experienced by birth parents, with a focus on understanding the impact and identifying strategies for support.
Providing more comprehensive support and resources for expectant parents, including counseling, support groups, and connections to birth parents who have gone through similar experiences.
Prioritizing the involvement and support of birth fathers in the adoption process to normalize their roles and experiences.
Expanding research to include intercountry adoption and adoption from foster care to gain a broader understanding of birth parent experiences in different adoption contexts.
Understanding birth parents’ experiences is crucial for improving adoption processes, services, and support. By acknowledging their diverse backgrounds, addressing stigma, and providing comprehensive support, we can create a more compassionate and effective adoption system that benefits all involved parties. Birth parents deserve to be included, heard, and supported throughout their adoption journey.