This paper evaluates a specific form of open adoption implemented by the Juvenile Court of Bari in order to preserve the affective bond between children and biological families, even after the enactment of adoption measures. A multi-stakeholder evaluation study (study I) using 7 focus group discussions allowed to identify both the distinctive features and potentialities vs. limits of this particular form of adoption and outcome variables to develop an assessment procedure to be employed with adoptive parents and children. Through an ad hoc questionnaire and several psychological tests, the second study investigates 70 families in order to see (a) if contact between children and biological families is maintained after adoption, and to assess (b) the degree of psychological well-being vs illness observed in adopted adolescents and young adults. The results of the evaluation studies demonstrate that while this new form of adoption represents a complex and highly specialised method, it is valuable in cases of semi-abandonment, when biological families are unable to fulfil their parental role yet show an affective bond with their children. In the light of these results, the paper outlines proposals and suggestions to improve foster care and adoption practices.
Keywords: Outcome Evaluation, Open Adoption, Evaluation Criteria, New Social Policies