University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Outcomes for Birthmothers

Grief Resolution

Birthmothers in stopped mediated adoptions showed the highest degree of unresolved adoption-related grief and loss at Wave 1 (Christian, McRoy, Grotevant, & Bryant, 1997). At both Wave 1 and Wave 2, birthmothers in fully disclosed adoptions had lower adoption-related grief and loss than those in confidential adoption. There were no significant differences by openness level associated with birthmother regret about the decision to place. When birthmothers' level of openness was controlled, as satisfaction with openness increased, birthmothers' current global level of grief decreased.

Other Relationships

Between the times of the Wave 1 and Wave 2 interviews, 49 birthmothers (39.2%) had contact with the birthfather of the adopted youth. At Wave 2, more birthmothers reported feeling negative or very negative about the birthfather than reported feeling positive or very positive about him; a small number of birthmothers felt neutral or ambivalent.

At Wave 2, most birthmothers indicated that placing a child for adoption had no effect or a consistently positive effect on their relationships with their current romantic partner or spouse. The majority of the birthmothers' romantic partners were not directly involved in contact with the adoptive family or adopted youth. However, even when openness level was controlled, birthmothers whose partners had higher levels of participation in the adoption were more satisfied on average than those who had lower levels of participation (McRoy, Ayers-Lopez, Henney, Christian, & Gossman, 2001).

Adjustment and Mental Health

Birthmother mental health, as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory at Wave 2, was not related to level of openness or frequency of contact.