Post-adoption face-to-face contact with birth parents: Prospective adopters’ views

Selina Turkington, Brian J Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The trend in adoption since the 1960s has been away from secrecy and towards greater openness; contact through an intermediary, and direct contact by letter is now widely accepted. More controversial is the challenge of face-to-face contact with birth parents, and Social Workers involved in the decision-making process find themselves having to make recommendations to the Court that balance the rights, needs and aspirations of the various parties regarding appropriate contact. The views of four prospective adoptive couples in Northern Ireland toward post-adoption face to face contact with birth parents were studied using semi-structured interviews. Prospective adoptive parents saw advantages and disadvantages in face to face contact with a birth parent for the child and themselves. One advantage highlighted was that contact could assist the child’s development of identity. However there was an underlying discomfort about facilitating this kind of contact because of its potentially negative effects such as the confusion it could cause a child and the resultant behavioural issues that could emerge. Prospective adopters wanted professionals to give them the opportunity to express and explore their apprehensions about face to face contact, and to provide them with fuller information to address their concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
JournalChild Care in Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2009


  • Adoption
  • child
  • contact
  • decision
  • identity
  • qualitative research
  • Northern Ireland
  • social work.


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