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Contact after adoption: a longitudinal follow up in late adolescence

Researchers: Professor Elsbeth Neil

Project overview

Many adopted children now have contact with their birth relatives through meetings or letters, but the long-term effects of such contact when adoptees are teenagers and young adults is not known.

This research will follow up 73 birth relatives and 62 adoptive families and their 87 adopted children for the third time; the adopted young people will be aged 14-21 years old.

The aim is to discover the different types of contact people have had, and what they feel is positive or negative about it. Researchers will measure how satisfied people have been with their contact arrangements and will explore whether there are any differences in young people’s self-worth, emotional and behavioural problems and competencies, adoptive identities, and relationships with adoptive parents according to how much and what type of contact they have had.

Other factors, such as difficult experiences the children may have had before being adopted, will also be taken into account. In addition, the research will look at how open adoptive parents have been in communicating about adoption with their children, and what difference this has made to the adopted young people. Researchers will also examine how well birth relatives are coping with the adoption and look at their mental health outcomes in the context of the type and level of contact.


  • Professor Elsbeth Neil
    Primary researcher
    University of East Anglia

  • Director, Welfare
    Nuffield Foundation

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