Previous research on adoption has led to assumptions that indicate that there is a heightened risk in terms of psychological development and social relationships for adoptees. Yet, such assumptions have been clarified as flawed due to methodological failures. But more recent studies have been supportive in indicating more accurate information and results about the similarities, differences and overall lifestyles of adoptees.[125]
The research literature states adoptees give four reasons for desiring reunion: 1) they wish for a more complete genealogy, 2) they are curious about events leading to their conception, birth, and relinquishment, 3) they hope to pass on information to their children, and 4) they have a need for a detailed biological background, including medical information. It is speculated by adoption researchers, however, that the reasons given are incomplete: although such information could be communicated by a third-party, interviews with adoptees, who sought reunion, found they expressed a need to actually meet biological relations.[167]

As the idea of institutional care gained acceptance, formal rules appeared about how to place children into families: boys could become apprenticed to an artisan and girls might be married off under the institution's authority.[19] Institutions informally adopted out children as well, a mechanism treated as a way to obtain cheap labor, demonstrated by the fact that when the adopted died, their bodies were returned by the family to the institution for burial.[20]
These differences in development appear to play out in the way young adoptees deal with major life events. In the case of parental divorce, adoptees have been found to respond differently from children who have not been adopted. While the general population experienced more behavioral problems, substance use, lower school achievement, and impaired social competence after parental divorce, the adoptee population appeared to be unaffected in terms of their outside relationships, specifically in their school or social abilities.[117]
Some adoptees reject the idea of reunion. It is unclear, though, what differentiates adoptees who search from those who do not. One paper summarizes the research, stating, "...attempts to draw distinctions between the searcher and non-searcher are no more conclusive or generalizable than attempts to substantiate...differences between adoptees and nonadoptees."[169]
By 1979, representatives of 32 organizations from 33 states, Canada and Mexico gathered in Washington, DC to establish the American Adoption Congress (AAC) passing a unanimous resolution: "Open Records complete with all identifying information for all members of the adoption triad, birthparents, adoptive parents and adoptee at the adoptee's age of majority (18 or 19, depending on state) or earlier if all members of the triad agree."[161] Later years saw the evolution of more militant organizations such as Bastard Nation (founded in 1996), groups that helped overturn sealed records in Alabama, Delaware, New Hampshire, Oregon, Tennessee, and Maine.[162][163] Simultaneously, groups such as Origins USA (founded in 1997) started to actively speak about family preservation and the rights of mothers.[164] The intellectual tone of these recent reform movements was influenced by the publishing of The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier. "Primal wound" is described as the "devastation which the infant feels because of separation from its birth mother. It is the deep and consequential feeling of abandonment which the baby adoptee feels after the adoption and which may continue for the rest of his life."[153]
Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction. Historically, some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption; where others have tried to achieve adoption through less formal means, notably via contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities without an accompanying transfer of filiation. Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.
Common law adoption: this is an adoption which has not been recognized beforehand by the courts, but where a parent, without resorting to any formal legal process, leaves his or her children with a friend or relative for an extended period of time.[88][89] At the end of a designated term of (voluntary) co-habitation, as witnessed by the public, the adoption is then considered binding, in some courts of law, even though not initially sanctioned by the court. The particular terms of a common-law adoption are defined by each legal jurisdiction. For example, the US state of California recognizes common law relationships after co-habitation of 2 years. The practice is called "private fostering" in Britain.[90]

Save 5% when you buy online and pickup in-store. Offer valid online only. Transaction total is prior to taxes & after discounts are applied. Offer valid on select merchandise when choosing In-Store Pickup. Savings will automatically reflect in the shopping cart with the purchase of qualifying merchandise. Maximum value $150. Offer not valid on gift cards, gift certificates, previous purchases, charitable donations and may exclude all or select items from the following brands: Adaptil®, Advantage®, Advantus™, Andis®, API®, Applaws®, Aqueon®, ARM & HAMMER™, Bayer, Benebone®, Blue Buffalo®, Brown's® Tropical Carnival®, Burt's Bees®, CANIDAE®, Capstar™, carefresh®, Castor & Pollux, Catit®, Cesar®, Charlee Bear®, Cheristin™, Chuckit!®, Cloud Star®, CRAVE™, DESIGNING HEALTH, DR. ELSEY'S® Precious Cat, DURAFORCE®, Eukanuba®, Fancy Feast®, Feliway®, flexi®, Fluval®, Free Spirit®, FRONTLINE®, FURminator®, Glandex®, GREENIES®, HALO®, Hikari, Hill's® Science Diet®, Himalayan Dog Chew®, Iams®, Jackson Galaxy®, JW Pet®, K9 Advantix®, KAYTEE®, KONG®, Kurgo®, Lafeber's®, Litter Genie™, Manna Pro, Merrick®, MILK-BONE®, Muse®, Natural Balance®, Naturally Fresh®, NATURE'S RECIPE®, Nature's Variety® Instinct®, NaturVet®, Nite Ize®, Nulo, NUTRO® ULTRA™, NUTRO® MAX CAT®, NUTRO® MAX®, NUTRO™, Nylabone®, Old Mother Hubbard®, Omega™, Outward Hound®, Oxbow™, PawZ®, PEDIGREE®, Pet Corrector™, PetArmor®, Petmate®, PetSafe®, PetSafe® Drinkwell®, PetSafe® ScoopFree®, Petstages®, Plato®, PureBites®, Purina® ONE®, Purina® Beyond®, Purina® Friskies®, Purina® Pro Plan®, Purina® Yesterday's News®, Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®, Redbarn, Royal Canin®, Seachem, SENTRY®, Seresto®, SHEBA®, Simple Solution®, Skout's Honor®, Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy™, Solid Gold®, Starmark®, Temptations™, The Missing Link®, ThunderShirt®, TropiClean®, True Chews®, TUFFY®, Vet's Best®, Virbac®, Vitakraft®, Vittles Vault®, Wellness®, WHIMZEES™, Whole Earth Farms®, WORLD'S BEST, ZOO MED™, Zuke's®, ZuPreem® Offer may not be combined with other promotional offers or discounts. Terms and conditions of this offer are subject to change at the sole discretion of PetSmart. Offer valid on PetSmart.com through November 22, 2019 @ 6:30 am EST.


The period 1945 to 1974, the baby scoop era, saw rapid growth and acceptance of adoption as a means to build a family.[40] Illegitimate births rose three-fold after World War II, as sexual mores changed. Simultaneously, the scientific community began to stress the dominance of nurture over genetics, chipping away at eugenic stigmas.[41][42] In this environment, adoption became the obvious solution for both unwed people and infertile couples.[43]
Foster care adoption: this is a type of domestic adoption where a child is initially placed in public care. Many times the foster parents take on the adoption when the children become legally free. Its importance as an avenue for adoption varies by country. Of the 127,500 adoptions in the U.S. in 2000[83] about 51,000 or 40% were through the foster care system.[84]
There is limited research on the consequences of adoption for the original parents, and the findings have been mixed. One study found that those who released their babies for adoption were less comfortable with their decision than those who kept their babies. However, levels of comfort over both groups were high, and those who released their child were similar to those who kept their child in ratings of life satisfaction, relationship satisfaction, and positive future outlook for schooling, employment, finances, and marriage.[121] Subsequent research found that adolescent mothers who chose to release their babies for adoption were more likely to experience feelings of sorrow and regret over their decision than those who kept their babies. However, these feelings decreased significantly from one year after birth to the end of the second year.[122]

Infant adoption during Antiquity appears rare.[4][7] Abandoned children were often picked up for slavery[8] and composed a significant percentage of the Empire's slave supply.[9][10] Roman legal records indicate that foundlings were occasionally taken in by families and raised as a son or daughter. Although not normally adopted under Roman Law, the children, called alumni, were reared in an arrangement similar to guardianship, being considered the property of the father who abandoned them.[11]
The research says that the dysfunction, untruths and evasiveness that can be present in adoptive families not only makes identity formation impossible, but also directly works against it. What effect on identity formation is present if the adoptee knows they are adopted but has no information about their biological parents? Silverstein and Kaplan's research states that adoptees lacking medical, genetic, religious, and historical information are plagued by questions such as "Who am I?" "Why was I born?" "What is my purpose?" This lack of identity may lead adoptees, particularly in adolescent years, to seek out ways to belong in a more extreme fashion than many of their non-adopted peers. Adolescent adoptees are overrepresented among those who join sub-cultures, run away, become pregnant, or totally reject their families.[133][134]
More recent research found that in a sample of mothers who had released their children for adoption four to 12 years prior, every participant had frequent thoughts of their lost child. For most, thoughts were both negative and positive in that they produced both feelings of sadness and joy. Those who experienced the greatest portion of positive thoughts were those who had open, rather than closed or time-limited mediated adoptions.[123]
The nobility of the Germanic, Celtic, and Slavic cultures that dominated Europe after the decline of the Roman Empire denounced the practice of adoption.[15] In medieval society, bloodlines were paramount; a ruling dynasty lacking a "natural-born" heir apparent was replaced, a stark contrast to Roman traditions. The evolution of European law reflects this aversion to adoption. English Common Law, for instance, did not permit adoption since it contradicted the customary rules of inheritance. In the same vein, France's Napoleonic Code made adoption difficult, requiring adopters to be over the age of 50, sterile, older than the adopted person by at least 15 years, and to have fostered the adoptee for at least six years.[16] Some adoptions continued to occur, however, but became informal, based on ad hoc contracts. For example, in the year 737, in a charter from the town of Lucca, three adoptees were made heirs to an estate. Like other contemporary arrangements, the agreement stressed the responsibility of the adopted rather than adopter, focusing on the fact that, under the contract, the adoptive father was meant to be cared for in his old age; an idea that is similar to the conceptions of adoption under Roman law.[17]
Private domestic adoptions: under this arrangement, charities and for-profit organizations act as intermediaries, bringing together prospective adoptive parents and families who want to place a child, all parties being residents of the same country. Alternatively, prospective adoptive parents sometimes avoid intermediaries and connect with women directly, often with a written contract; this is not permitted in some jurisdictions. Private domestic adoption accounts for a significant portion of all adoptions; in the United States, for example, nearly 45% of adoptions are estimated to have been arranged privately.[83]
As the idea of institutional care gained acceptance, formal rules appeared about how to place children into families: boys could become apprenticed to an artisan and girls might be married off under the institution's authority.[19] Institutions informally adopted out children as well, a mechanism treated as a way to obtain cheap labor, demonstrated by the fact that when the adopted died, their bodies were returned by the family to the institution for burial.[20]
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This system of apprenticeship and informal adoption extended into the 19th century, today seen as a transitional phase for adoption history. Under the direction of social welfare activists, orphan asylums began to promote adoptions based on sentiment rather than work; children were placed out under agreements to provide care for them as family members instead of under contracts for apprenticeship.[21] The growth of this model is believed to have contributed to the enactment of the first modern adoption law in 1851 by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, unique in that it codified the ideal of the "best interests of the child."[22][23] Despite its intent, though, in practice, the system operated much the same as earlier incarnations. The experience of the Boston Female Asylum (BFA) is a good example, which had up to 30% of its charges adopted out by 1888.[24] Officials of the BFA noted that, although the asylum promoted otherwise, adoptive parents did not distinguish between indenture and adoption; "We believe," the asylum officials said, "that often, when children of a younger age are taken to be adopted, the adoption is only another name for service."[25]

Adoptions can occur either between related family members, or unrelated individuals. Historically, most adoptions occurred within a family. The most recent data from the U.S. indicates about half of adoptions are currently between related individuals.[78] A common example of this is a "stepparent adoption", where the new partner of a parent may legally adopt a child from the parent's previous relationship. Intra-family adoption can also occur through surrender, as a result of parental death, or when the child cannot otherwise be cared for and a family member agrees to take over.


Other studies provide evidence that adoptive relationships can form along other lines. A study evaluating the level of parental investment indicates strength in adoptive families, suggesting that parents who adopt invest more time in their children than other parents and concludes, "...adoptive parents enrich their children's lives to compensate for the lack of biological ties and the extra challenges of adoption."[94] Another recent study found that adoptive families invested more heavily in their adopted children, for example, by providing further education and financial support. Noting that adoptees seemed to be more likely to experience problems such as drug addiction, the study speculated that adoptive parents might invest more in adoptees not because they favor them, but because they are more likely than genetic children to need the help.[95]
Unlike guardianship or other systems designed for the care of the young, adoption is intended to effect a permanent change in status and as such requires societal recognition, either through legal or religious sanction. Historically, some societies have enacted specific laws governing adoption; where others have tried to achieve adoption through less formal means, notably via contracts that specified inheritance rights and parental responsibilities without an accompanying transfer of filiation. Modern systems of adoption, arising in the 20th century, tend to be governed by comprehensive statutes and regulations.

Save 5% when you buy online and pickup in-store. Offer valid online only. Transaction total is prior to taxes & after discounts are applied. Offer valid on select merchandise when choosing In-Store Pickup. Savings will automatically reflect in the shopping cart with the purchase of qualifying merchandise. Maximum value $150. Offer not valid on gift cards, gift certificates, previous purchases, charitable donations and may exclude all or select items from the following brands: Adaptil®, Advantage®, Advantus™, Andis®, API®, Applaws®, Aqueon®, ARM & HAMMER™, Bayer, Benebone®, Blue Buffalo®, Brown's® Tropical Carnival®, Burt's Bees®, CANIDAE®, Capstar™, carefresh®, Castor & Pollux, Catit®, Cesar®, Charlee Bear®, Cheristin™, Chuckit!®, Cloud Star®, CRAVE™, DESIGNING HEALTH, DR. ELSEY'S® Precious Cat, DURAFORCE®, Eukanuba®, Fancy Feast®, Feliway®, flexi®, Fluval®, Free Spirit®, FRONTLINE®, FURminator®, Glandex®, GREENIES®, HALO®, Hikari, Hill's® Science Diet®, Himalayan Dog Chew®, Iams®, Jackson Galaxy®, JW Pet®, K9 Advantix®, KAYTEE®, KONG®, Kurgo®, Lafeber's®, Litter Genie™, Manna Pro, Merrick®, MILK-BONE®, Muse®, Natural Balance®, Naturally Fresh®, NATURE'S RECIPE®, Nature's Variety® Instinct®, NaturVet®, Nite Ize®, Nulo, NUTRO® ULTRA™, NUTRO® MAX CAT®, NUTRO® MAX®, NUTRO™, Nylabone®, Old Mother Hubbard®, Omega™, Outward Hound®, Oxbow™, PawZ®, PEDIGREE®, Pet Corrector™, PetArmor®, Petmate®, PetSafe®, PetSafe® Drinkwell®, PetSafe® ScoopFree®, Petstages®, Plato®, PureBites®, Purina® ONE®, Purina® Beyond®, Purina® Friskies®, Purina® Pro Plan®, Purina® Yesterday's News®, Rachael Ray™ Nutrish®, Redbarn, Royal Canin®, Seachem, SENTRY®, Seresto®, SHEBA®, Simple Solution®, Skout's Honor®, Smart Pet Love Snuggle Puppy™, Solid Gold®, Starmark®, Temptations™, The Missing Link®, ThunderShirt®, TropiClean®, True Chews®, TUFFY®, Vet's Best®, Virbac®, Vitakraft®, Vittles Vault®, Wellness®, WHIMZEES™, Whole Earth Farms®, WORLD'S BEST, ZOO MED™, Zuke's®, ZuPreem® Offer may not be combined with other promotional offers or discounts. Terms and conditions of this offer are subject to change at the sole discretion of PetSmart. Offer valid on PetSmart.com through November 22, 2019 @ 6:30 am EST.
Previous research on adoption has led to assumptions that indicate that there is a heightened risk in terms of psychological development and social relationships for adoptees. Yet, such assumptions have been clarified as flawed due to methodological failures. But more recent studies have been supportive in indicating more accurate information and results about the similarities, differences and overall lifestyles of adoptees.[125] 
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