Post-adoption Contact and Adoptive Parents' Receptiveness to Direct Contact in the Four Nations of the UK: Research Briefing

Christine Jones, Mandi MacDonald, Rebecca Brooks

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This briefing paper reports key findings from a recent study of direct contact between adoptive families and birth relatives within the four nations of the UK. The study involved secondary analysis of a data set generated from the Adoption Barometer, a largescale annual survey of adoptive parents conducted by Adoption UK (n=3,470). The analysis focused on data relating to actual direct contact between adoptive and birth families in 2018, and anticipated future direct contact. The key purpose of this study was to compare experiences of adoptive families across the four nations of the United Kingdom: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Key findings
• Rates of direct contact between birth families and adoptive families vary considerably across the UK from a low of 16% in Wales to high of 54% in Northern
• In addition, there are differences in rates of direct contact with various categories of birth relative such as birth parents and birth siblings.
• A significant minority of adopters across all four nations are receptive to considering additional direct contact with birth relatives than is currently experienced, particularly, with birth siblings.
• The variations across nations in rates and types of contact suggest that decisions regarding a child’s best interests are open to considerable interpretation.
• Some opportunities for positive ongoing contact between adopted children and birth family members, especially siblings, may be being missed
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages4
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2020


  • adoption
  • direct contact
  • parenting
  • social policy


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