Date of Award:

2005

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Brent C. Miller

Abstract

This study described adoptees' knowledge of and contact with birth parents in adolescence and young adulthood, and analyzed the relationship between adoptees' knowledge of and contact with birth parents and the adoptees' adjustment in young adulthood. Data for the current study came from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health). In total, 487 adoptees were identified for this study in Wave I (1995) and Wave Ill (2 002). Descriptive and multivariate analyses using logistic regression were conducted.

Adoptees were more likely to be aware of their birth mothers than of their birth fathers and the percentage differences between their knowledge about birth mothers and about birth fathers were reduced over time. Adoptees were more likely to know about their birth parents during young adulthood than adolescence. Being female, being placed at an older age, never placed in a foster home, and being in young adulthood were statistically significant factors to increase the probability of knowing about birth mothers; being placed at older age and being in young adulthood statistically significantly affected the probability of having knowledge about birth fathers.

Adoptees were more likely to contact their birth mothers than birth fathers and the differences in percentage concerning contacting birth mothers and birth fathers were increased seven years later. Being adopted at older age, never placed in a foster home, and being in young adulthood were statistically significantly associated with the probability of contacting birth mothers. Being adopted at an older age was associated with the probability of contacting birth fathers.

The more adoptees knew about or contacted their birth parents, the less they attended college and the more they formed couple relationships in young adulthood. However, this negative effect of knowing about or contacting birth parents almost disappeared when other variables were controlled. This study provides new information in adoption studies, but the results remain inconclusive until the dynamics of pre-adoption history and post-adoption relationships are better understood.

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