March 25th, 2007
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The stated purpose of this project:

The purpose of the CAP is to study both nature and nurture, to determine the genetic predispositions as well as the environmental influences that contribute to traits such as intelligence, personality, and behavior.

The Colorado Adoption Project (“CAP”) is beginning its 31st year, and is therefore one of the longest running such studies in the United States.

When I first began to study adoption during reunion, I kept discovering what I perceived to be amazing revelations. My notable discoveries turned out to be not as unknown as they appeared to me at first blush. After awhile,I eventually reached the conclusion that there was a great deal of information available, but I just had not known about it. I remember thinking after various discoveries, “someone should write a book about this,” then I discovered that someone already had. It was difficult for me to comprehend that with all that had been learned, so little had changed.


Unfortunately, all the research in the world will not be useful unless we start paying attention to it, and making some broad changes in adoption practices and counseling pregnant women. For instance, there is enough research to suggest the harm that closed adoptions cause and yet, we continue on to sanction them. We justify closed adoptions partially by saying that, “open adoptions aren’t for everyone,” and that we need choices. Personally, I think that is a cop-out. I know there are rare instances that closed adoptions are needed, but, in most cases, the secrecy is unnecessary.

On the CAP website, they state that over 150 articles have been published in various scientific journals using their data. I intend to read up on some of their research and report back on it later. Below is one conclusion reached from their research so far:

Adopted children resemble their adoptive parents slightly in early childhood but not at all in middle childhood or adolescence. In contrast, during childhood and adolescence, adopted children become more like their biological parents and to the same degree as children and parents in nonadoptive families.

The quote above is from a paper which resulted from this study called “Nature, nurture, and cognitive development from 1-16 years: A parent-offspring adoption study.” It was published in 1997 in a journal called Psychological Science.

6 Responses to “Colorado Adoption Project”

  1. John says:

    Question Jan. Take a mom who really has issues that will prevent parenting, and decideds on adoption, and then picks a family that she sees as a great fit. Problem, the potential adoptive family just isn’t comfortable with open adoption. Should mom select a clearly less good fit to get open adoption, or go with the really good fit? Is non-open adoption an almost absolute no go?

    I would guess some folks are like me, on the first adoption, contact with the original parents seemed scary and unwise. By the time I had been and adoptive parent for a while, limited contact was something I wished we had. Do we elimiate all first adopters to get only folks who are comfortable with open adoption, and is this best for the child?

    Thanks for the post. John

  2. Jan Baker says:

    Funny you should ask this question, because I have a blog posting soon on whether or not all adoptions should be open. I think moms finding parents for their children have to weigh everything out and then decide. Not all moms want to be in open adoptions, birth or adoptive. We need to change mindsets and prove the benefits of open adoption too.

    When a parent is not committed to an open adoption, chances are that it will not work. I wish we supported and equipped people more for open adoptions.

    From my prospective, closed adoptions are rarely what needs to happen for the sake of the child. There is some benefit even to an exchange of info even without contact. The secrecy is what is most harmful to children, and not knowing, IMHO.

  3. Have you seen anything of this magnitude for internationally adopted children? I wonder how that might change the findings.

  4. Jan Baker says:

    Virgina, I can’t say that I have, but I do think it might affect the findings. The international aspect probably does add to the mix.

    We do so much international adoption in the U.S., we should be researching the issue more, just as for domestic adoptions. Maybe Sandra knows of some studies?

  5. John says:

    Jan, thanks for the response. When I think of open adoption, its the kind with visits between the child and the birth parents (I did use two words). It is hard to see what the hangup would be for exchange of info, wow, do I wish we had that.

    Question, what does IMHO mean?

  6. Jan Baker says:

    John, I consider a truly open adoption one with contact as well. Some say that when there is an exchange of information even, an adoption is technically “open.” As to the exchange of info – think sometimes fear enters into it.

    IMHO – In my humble opinion.

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