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adoptDeciding to adopt a child is a deeply personal decision. Couples may choose to pursue a closed adoption, where the child and family has no contact with the birth mother, or an open adoption where the child and family has access to a degree of personal information, and may choose to maintain contact with each other once the adoption is complete. According to The Minnesota/Texas Adoption Research Project, having an open adoption may affect the child's self-esteem and adjustment.

According to the study, in children between the ages of 4-12 the level of openness in the adoption didn't affect self-esteem or adjustment. It did however seem to have an impact during middle childhood for adopted children. The empathy and mutual respect generated by an open adoption between the adoptive and birth parents had a significantly positive impact during this time.

In adolescents, the level of openness wasn't significantly important to the child's adjustment levels. Instead, qualities such as relationship collaboration and compatibility were more likely to impact an adopted child's self-esteem. Another somewhat surprising result from the study was that the level of openness in the adoption did not seem to result in any differences in a child's degree of preoccupation with being adopted, or their adoptive identity.

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texas-open-adoptionAdding a child to your family is a very exciting prospect, but it is also a process that can feel confusing and emotionally overwhelming if it is your first time. One way to ease your anxiety is to work with a family lawyer experienced in adoption. This will give you more information about what to expect and how to structure the adoption in a way that is best for you and the child.

The Minnesota/Texas Adoption research project explored two waves of children who were adopted. In their first wave of research, the project creators found no relationship between adoption openness and self-esteem, but those results changed as time went on, possibly reflecting a greater trend about the desire for open adoption.

The first wave of research worked with adopted children between the ages of 4 and 12, and the second wave worked with children between 11 and 21 years old. For older adopted children, there is a positive aspect of having an open adoption: those teens who had birth mother contact were the most satisfied of all research groups with their level of birth parent contact overall. Most of the adolescents wanted more contract with their birth parents in the future, too.

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