The Adoption Curiosity Pathway: A Process Model for Understanding Adoption-Related Information Seeking
Purpose: Traditionally, curiosity about one’s adoption has been interpreted as leading to a search for possible reunion with birth parents. While search and reunion with birth parents is an important process for some adopted persons, others may already have contact with birth parents and have different adoption-related information needs. As adoption practice has incorporated contact with birth parents in placement plans, the need arose for a theoretical approach that encompasses the complexity of various adoption types and desires of adopted persons. The purpose of this presentation is to describe the Adoption Curiosity Pathway (ACP) and subsequent research that supports its description of curiosity and information seeking.
The ACP provides an avenue for understanding differing levels of curiosity and adoption-related information needs among adoptees with varying forms of contact with birth parents. The ACP is a process model that addresses the expression of adoption-related curiosity and subsequent decisions to seek out specific adoption information. There are three steps on the ACP towards information seeking: (1) identifying an adoption information gap, (2) determining the intensity of adoption-related curiosity, and (3) seeking out the desired information. Curiosity is viewed as the motivation to engage in information seeking behavior. Barriers and facilitators to obtaining that information contribute to the context within which curiosity and information seeking reside.
Method: The ACP which was formulated within the context of the Minnesota-Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP), a longitudinal study of domestic infant adoption. The research presented will include findings from Wave 2 (adolescence) and Wave 3 (emerging adulthood).
Findings: A synthesis of research from MTARP supporting each aspect of the model will be presented. This will include: 1) the development and content of the adoption-related information gap. For those who are curious, what are they curious about? At adolescence the top request was reasons for placement, at emerging adulthood it was medical information; 2) determining the intensity of adoption-related curiosity. Why are some persons very curious about their adoptions, other less so and some not at all? Those expressing greater satisfaction with their adoptions were less likely to have an adoption-related information gap; 3) deciding to seek out desired adoption-related information or not. What are the barriers and facilitators to taking action to find desired information? Those with greater curiosity and more identified facilitators such as offers of assistance or perceived resources, were more likely to seek out information.
Implications: For adoption professionals and counselors, the ACP provides a framework of understanding the complex context in which information seeking decisions are made. It is important to consider barriers and facilitators to information seeking as they differ among adopted individuals.