Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


Open adoption, Adopted children-Psychology, Adopted children-Family relationships, Adoptive parents-Psychology, Birthmothers-Psychology, Families, Object relations (Psychoanalysis), Attachment behavior, Adoption, Adoption triad, Object relations theory, Attachment theory


The purpose of this study was to examine the nature of relationships within an open adoption triad. The adoption triad is defined as the birth parents, the adoptive parents, and the adoptee. The broadest definition of an open adoption arrangement is that it involves the intentional contact or communication between adoptive parents, adopted persons and birth parents before or after adoption. The study looked at children adopted as infants through private adoption agencies. For this study the major constructs of Object relations Theory and Attachment Theory were applied to each member of the adoption triad. This study found evidence that adoptees can introject aspects from both birth and adoptive parents which can cause splitting during middle childhood and adolescence. This study found that there is an attachment between adoptive parents and adoptees that mirrors that of biologic families. The adoptee does develop an attachment to the birthparent most often as another supportive adult in their lives. The nature of the relationship between the birth parents and adoptive parents can be collaborative working in the best interests of the child. This collaborative relationship can resolve some of the identity issues seen in closed adoptions that occur during adolescence. The level of openness has been found to be a mediating factor in the resolution of grief in birthmothers. In addition contact with birthmothers was indicated in producing a sense of entitlement in raising the adopted child for adoptive parents.




iv, 98 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)-Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Ma. 2010. Includes bibliographical references (p. 92-98)