The Role of Tech-Mediated and Traditional Modes of Communication in Adult Adoptees' Contact with Birth Mothers and Birth Fathers
The present study aims to understand how adult adoptees use traditional and tech-mediated modes of communication in their contact with their birth mother (BM) and birth father (BF). Relationships between desire for increased use of traditional or tech-medication modes of communication with satisfaction with contact, closeness, and psychological presence of birth relatives were also examined.
Participants were selected from a larger study on openness in adoption. All participants were adults (Mage = 31) who had been adopted as infants through private domestic adoption (N = 90). Participants reported on their current contact and desires for future contact with their BM and BF. Participants were asked about their current use and desired future use of 15 communication modes: 6 traditional modes (e.g., phone calls) and 9 tech-mediated modes (e.g., text messaging). Participants also rated their satisfaction with contact, current closeness, and desired future closeness with their BM and BF using Likert scales. Psychological presence of BM and BF was measured as how frequently the participant thought about their BM/BF.
Of the 60 participants who had current contact with their BM, 90% used 1+ traditional mode of communication and most used six modes (28.3%). For tech-mediated modes, 91.7% used 1+ modes and most used two modes (33.3%). Of the 19 who had current contact with their BF, 94.7% used 1+ traditional mode and most used four modes (26.3%). For tech-mediated modes, 78.9% used 1+ modes and most used one mode (57.9%).
Those who wanted to increase both tech and traditional modes of communication with both their BM and BF reported lower satisfaction with contact than those who did not want to increase use (all p’s < .022). Those who desired increases in traditional modes showed higher psychological presence of BMs and desired greater future closeness (all p’s < .022) while psychological presence and desired closeness did not differ between those who desired increases in tech-mediated modes (p = .554). Alternatively, psychological presence of BFs was higher for both those who desired increased traditional and tech-mediated modes (all p’s <.023). Desired future closeness with BF was greater for those who desired increases in tech-mediated modes (p = .033), but did not differ based on desired increase in traditional modes (p = .128). Current closeness did not differ for those who wanted increases with BM/BF and those who didn’t (all p’s >.096).
These findings suggest that adult adoptees use both traditional and tech-mediated modes of communication in their contact with their BM & BF. Our finding that psychological presence and desired future closeness was higher in those that desired increases in traditional but not tech-mediated communication with BMs may suggest that traditional modes of communication play an important role in these relationships. Differences between BMs and BFs may a result of fewer participants having contact with their BF.