Adoption and Fostering
Although much research and attention has been focused on birth mothers, less is known about the experiences and perspectives of birth fathers. The author surveys recent research in this area from the U.S. and Australia, noting that attitudes toward birth fathers range from hostility and grudging acceptance on the part of birth mothers and adoptive parents, to a mix of both positive and negative emotions on the part of adopted children. Negative attitudes of adoption professionals toward birth fathers may be unconscious and result from theories of maternal bonding and attachment prevalent in the 1950s and 1960s. The author asks a series of key questions pertaining to birth fathers' experiences from pregnancy through adoption, and to the nature of fatherhood in general. The author suggests that the answers to these questions may have implications for adoption policy and practice that may affect the conduct of counseling both during and after placement; the movement toward greater openness in adoption; and the rights and responsibilities of fathers/men, both married and unmarried, in child support and adoption. The author outlines recent legislative changes and proposals in the U.K. that might be re-evaluated, given more understanding of birth fathers' experiences. 37 references.
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