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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Simon Hackett

Greenhow, S., Hackett, S., Jones, C. & Meins, E. (2016). The Maintenance of Traditional and Technological Forms of Post-Adoption Contact. Child Abuse Review 25(5): 373-385.

Author(s) from Durham


Openness in adoption practice now often includes post-adoption contact with the adopted child's birth family. Traditionally, indirect and direct contact has been supported and mediated by professionals following the adoption of children from the public care system in the UK. However, more recently, the widespread growth in the use of digital technologies has made it possible for both adopted children and birth relatives to search and contact one another through the use of sites such as Facebook without professional support. This practice has been called ‘virtual contact’. Using data from interviews with 11 adoptive parents and six adopted young people, who had experienced virtual contact, it is suggested that virtual contact works well when it is successfully integrated with the maintenance of more traditional methods of contact but can present risks when introduced without prior contact. Implications for practice are discussed in terms of how virtual contact can become a positive addition to adoption practices by utilising integrated methods of openness through which adoptive relationships can be maintained.