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Birth fathers, Human adoption, Open adoption, Unintended pregnancy



  1. Clutter, Lynn B. PhD, APRN, CNS, CNE, IBCLC


Background: Birth fathers are the least known of the adoption triad (adoptee, birth family, adoptive family). There is a gap in evidence about birth father involvement in open adoptions.


Purpose: The purpose of the study was to explore birth fathers' experiences of open adoption and contact patterns with birth children.


Methods: Ten birth fathers of open adoptions were recruited from two agencies. Birth fathers participated in recorded telephone interviews using naturalistic inquiry. Verbatim transcripts were analyzed for qualitative content themes.


Results: At conception and birth, birth fathers were not in a situation suitable to raising a child but wanted to do the right thing and have ongoing contact. Birth fathers' experiences and contact patterns within the adoption triad revealed positive impact on their own lives and on other triad members. Openness provided opportunities to develop relationships. Contact and time together were beneficial and valued. Birth fathers believed themselves to be an important part of the village needed to raise the child well and emerge as a new kind of family.


Clinical Implications: Nurses interface with birth fathers and adoption triads in a variety of settings. Birth father status and degree of openness in the adoption placement can have an impact on his wellbeing. Nurses can participate in optimizing outcomes during pregnancy, childbirth, and childhood.