The relationship of services to success in older child adoption
Smith, Eve Pearlman
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An exploratory study was conducted for the purpose of examining the possibility that agency services and community supports influence outcomes in older child adoption, and to generate hypotheses for further testing. The study sought answers to three questions: (1) What is adoption success? (2) What services, models of practice and background variables are predictors of, or associated with, success? and (3) How do non-agency supports, such as counseling or membership in an adoptive parent group, affect success?;Data source was parents of 69 families who adopted 98 children. Adoptees were 5.5 to 18 years old (median 11) at placement; and 18 to 33 years (median 20) at interview. Telephone interviews were conducted, utilizing a survey format that included the possibility for open-ended comments. Included was data on success, as measured by parent satisfaction and kinship behavior, and both contemporary and retrospective data on demographic and service variables. Univariate methods were first used for descriptive purposes; then bivariate analysis explored associations between dependent and independent variables. Finally, controlling for background factors, a multivariate analysis using the logit method was employed to estimate the effects of service and support variables.;Research outcomes included: (1) the establishment of new indicators of adoption success; (2) support for the general hypothesis that social work practices can act as determinants of success or failure; and (3) generation of specific hypotheses are the effects of practice and service variables. Some service variables that were predictors of success were: discussion of parents' expectations of the child; contact during the homestudy process with parents who had already adopted older children; and the provision of agency services after legal adoption. Demographic predictors were: parents over age 40; non-professional father; child had no or mild emotional disability at placement; and child is a girl. Parent group membership was a negative predictor; however parent group members adopted larger percentages of children over age 11 and with moderate or severe emotional disabilities at placement. Recommendations are made for research and demonstration studies to further test these hypotheses and to explore their implications for policy and practice.