Department of Education

Research projects

Outcomes of Open Adoption in Australia

A landmark research project into the outcomes of open adoption from out- of-home care. The study focussed on the 210 children and young people who were adopted through Barnardos Australia between 1987 and 2013.The programme did not knowingly accept Aboriginal children.Despite the increasing use of adoption to provide permanence for abused and neglected children in out-of-home care who cannot safely return to their birth parents, relatively little is known about the needs, experiences and outcomes of those involved.

The project is a collaboration between the Universities of Oxford and Loughborough UK and Barnardos Australia.

The researchers explored the characteristics, antecedents and experiences of the birth parents, adoptive parents and the children at the time they first entered their adoptive homes, and then traced the subsequent life trajectories of 93 (44%) of the adoptees until 2016, an average of 18 years after placement. This unique study of ‘hard to place’ adoptees and the adults who are most important in their lives is the first longitudinal research study of open adoption to have been undertaken in Australia.

The full report of the study is currently being finalised and will be released in 2020.

Barnardos Australia project page

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