Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed: Policy and Practice Perspective. Executive Summary.
Smith, Susan Livingston.
Donaldson Adoption Institute.
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Published: October 2010
Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute
525 Broadway, 6th floor
New York, NY 10012
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This report examines the range of service needs for adoptive families. It describes the challenges faced by these families, examines the research on adoption outcomes, and discusses the risk and protective factors for children and families that predict more positive, as well as more negative, adjustments. Primary findings include: 1) Most adopted children, because they suffered early deprivation or maltreatment, come to their new families with elevated risks for developmental, physical, psychological, emotional, or behavioral challenges; 2) Protective factors in children and families (such as the child's easygoing temperament, parents having realistic expectations and thorough adoption preparation, open communication and warm, positive parenting style, as well as support from extended family and others) can buffer the impact of adverse beginnings, help prevent and resolve problems, and promote resilience; 3) The utilization of clinical services by adoptive families is about triple the rate reported by birth families; 4) The layers of issues and dynamics present in complex, chronic adjustment difficulties are often not understood by adoptive parents or the professionals they contact -- i.e., teachers, school personnel, pediatricians, and others; 5) The development of specialized post-adoption supports began primarily in the late 1980s and 1990s, but it has slowed considerably over the past decade; 6) Many exemplary services have been developed, primarily through federally funded demonstration projects and initiatives supported by state child welfare systems, but funding constraints have led some to be terminated, others to be scaled back, and yet others to be offered on very limited bases; and 7) Research on post-adoption programs is scarce, and few, if any, studies rise to the level of rigor needed to substantiate empirically based effectiveness. Recommendations are provided. (Author abstract modified)
post adoption services; research; evidence based practice; promising practices; models; demonstration programs; service delivery; funding