Statistics, Studies and Research on Adoption and Adoption Related Issues
In the United States, there is not a central body that is collecting accurate adoption statistics. There is no one single oversight organization that actual collects data from all the different adoption agencies around the country. Often all the “big” number on adoption are estimated at best. Various facts and numbers float around and if they get repeated often enough, they are “facts about adoption”. Sometimes the source is lost and cannot be verified.
Actual scientific research on adoption and adoption related issues is frequently hard to find. For one, there just isn’t enough of it. Almost every study that I have ever read included in their conclusion “further studies are needed”.
Making Adoption Research Studies Public to All
The other issue is that many of the adoption studies are not made public. They are easy enough to find, but not read online. Many of the studies require access to an educational database or a purchase of the papers. In the last 12 years I have acquired quite a collection from various sources and am working to add them all here.
When I can transfer them over to copy, I have included the entire papers. When I cannot move the copy off PDF, I have a link to the actual PDF of the adoption research study.
I am not sure if this is even considered acceptable, but I have done it anyway. I am trying to get permission from the authors when I can. If you happen to have authored a paper here and would like to officially “allow” it, then please let me know. If you need it taken down, I will also comply. Maybe I am rationalizing, but all this work done helps no one if it cannot be accessed.
Assume that all children who have been adopted or fostered have experienced trauma.” says the American Academy of Pediatrics in new guide. read more…
The results of this study indicate that attempted suicide is more common among adolescents who live with adoptive parents than among adolescents who live with biological parents. It support the primary hypothesis that adoption is associated with attempted suicide but do not support the secondary hypothesis that the association is mediated by impulsivity. The study results do support the third hypothesis that family connectedness decreases the risk of suicidal behavior regardless of adolescent adoptive or nonadoptive status. read more…
Thus, 18% of adopted children ages 12 to 17 have ever been diagnosed with depression compared with 7% of children in the general population. No particular differences in proportions of children with depression were noted between foster care, domestic, and international adoptees. Researchers and practitioners probably should remain cognizant of the small increased risk of suicidal ideation for certain types of adoptees. In 2010 alone, more than 50,000 children were adopted from public foster care, which does not include the many international, independent, and private adoptions (Vandivere et al., 2009). A 1% to 3% increased rate of suicidal ideation, accumulated across all later adopted youth over a period of years, translates into thousands of individuals with suicidal inclinations. The many adoptive parents whose adopted children experience such thoughts almost certainly would not want this serious matter dismissed as a “small” effect size. Adoption advocacy groups might also take cognizance of these results in efforts to increase support for post-adoption services. read more…
Based on a 100% population, then, the USA IF it had similar adoption practices and supported mothers would have 539 Voluntary Domestic Infant relinquishments annually give or takeWant to do it again? Based on the 2006 numbers, we are looking at only 826 infants relinquished in the USA rather than the 14,000.
I don’t even need my calculator to know that it means we are looking at aproximately 13,500 babies relinquished by mothers who, IF given accurate information regarding parenting and had options and support, would most likely NOT have placed their babies for adoption. Now multiply that by the last ten years: that’s over 135,000 families separated for no other reason than the fact that adoption is a huge profit driven business in the USA. read more…
Indications were strong that biological mothers who know more about the later life of the child they relinquished have a harder time making an adjustment than do mothers whose tie to the child is broken off completely by means of death. Relinquishing mothers who know only that their children still live but have no details about their lives appear to experience an intermediate degree of grief. It might seem a paradox that continued knowledge about the relinquished child would intensify a mother’s grief symptoms. The question of whether open adoption inhibits a healthy grieving process needs careful consideration before open adoption becomes a standard method of practice read more…
2006 Michele Goodwin argues that the current adoption model in the United States resembles an unregulated marketplace in children. Whether lawmakers and citizens wish to recognize this marketplace, its existence is demonstrated by frequent financial transactions among adoptive parents, birth mothers, and adoption agencies that resemble payments. The author explores this marketplace and the way in which race, genetic traits, and class are implicated in adoption processes, resulting in higher fees associated with the adoption of children with desirable traits. The author proposes two mechanisms by which the government could regulate the adoption market—price caps and taxation. read more…
Kathryn A. Sweeney* Purdue University Calumet
This study used data from 15 in-depth interviews to better understand how perceptions of birth families by White adoptive parents rely on and challenge cultural perspectives of poverty. Findings show the complexity of their views: even when adoptive parents recognize structural causes of poverty, they tend to rely on the idea that birth parent poverty results from inadequate choices made by individuals. Findings have implications for agency practice, relationships with birth families and adoptee identity.
Adoption and economic disparity are intertwined by who typically places their children for adoption and those who have the economic resources to adopt them (Quiroz, 2007a). The number of children placed for adoption is linked to factors such as political circumstances, government regulations, stigma attached to ―illegitimacy‖ and economic inequities where those with fewer financial resources and those who live in unstable countries and countries with high poverty rates are more likely to place (Gailey, 2010). Thus, family formation through adoption (i.e., domestic public, domestic private, and international) is entangled with class factors. Little is known about how adoptive parents view the biological parents of their children and how those views are influenced by perceptions of class and poverty. This study used data from 15 in-depth interviews to better understand how adoptive parent perceptions of birth families reinforces and challenges cultural perspectives of poverty.
Findings have implications for how children view adoption and their biological families, child identity, relationships between birth and adoptive families for those with open adoptions, and agency practices.
Culture of poverty arguments focus on group differences in culture, values, and genetics causing the circumstances and outcomes of poverty such as crime, low education levels, and high unemployment (Lewis, 1959; Moynihan, 1969). These ideas stem from the notion that the U.S. is a meritocracy, meaning it has ―a social system where individual talent and effort, rather than ascriptive traits, determine individuals’ placements in a social hierarchy‖ (Alon & Tienda, 2007: 489). Believing in a meritocracy allows people to rationalize away inequality, blaming individuals for poverty rather than larger systems of privilege and disadvantages. The ideas of meritocracy are part of the dominant way people understand race in the U.S. It is often labeled ―colorblind racial ideology,‖ where racism is seen as an issue of the past and the world if viewed through a supposed race-neutral or colorblind lens. This ideology allows people to explain racial inequality as the result of individual lack of effort, choosing not to invest in human capital, making poor choices, and having ―bad‖ values (Bonilla-Silva,
Studies find that the general public relies on these cultural explanations to explain poverty (McDonald, 2001; Shaw and Shapiro, 2002). Shaw and Shapiro (2002) found that 40% of people of any race in their sample blamed individuals for their financial position and thought that those experiencing poverty read more…
Mary O’Leary Wiley; Independent Practice
Amanda L. Baden; Montclair State University
This article addresses birth parents in the adoption triad by reviewing and integrating both the clinical and empirical literature from a number of professional disciplines with practice case studies. This review includes literature on the decision to relinquish one’s child for adoption, the early postrelinquishment period, and the effects throughout the lifespan on birth parents. Clinical symptoms for birth parents include unresolved grief, isolation, difficulty with future relationships, and trauma. Some recent research has found that some birth mothers who relinquish tend to fare comparably to those who do not relinquish on external criteria of well-being (e.g., high school graduation rates).
However, there appear to be serious long-term psychological consequences of relinquishment. Limitations of the current literature are presented, and recommendations for practice and research are offered.
For Monica, from Her Birthmother
We’ve grown together for two years.
We’ve shared together your laughter and tears.
Since your first moments in this world
So many, many things have unfurled.
Once a child, you’re grown now,
The time has come to pass.
Know I’ll always love you.
That’s all I’ll ever ask.
You’ve had the time to live and grow.
How was I to ever, ever know
I couldn’t give the care that you would need.
Mine wouldn’t be the voice that you would heed.
When I had to say good-bye to you
I didn’t know how much that I’d go through
Wanting to be with you all the while.
I pray you have someone to care
And friends that always, always will be there
A family to support you all the time
Who give the love I long to give a child of mine.
—Imelda Buckley (Roles, 1989, p. 7)
Although the feelings expressed in Imelda Buckley’s poem are widely
understood, birth parents are the least studied, understood, and served members
of the adoption triad (Freundlich, 2002; Reitz & Watson, 1992;
Zamostny, O’Brien, Baden,&Wiley, 2003). Birth parents are often the invisible
members of the adoption triad. For some, this is by choice; for others, it is
an artifact of the adoption system and its historical legal requirements of full
relinquishment, secrecy, and anonymity (Winkler, Brown, van Keppel, &
Blanchard, 1988). In international adoptions, birth parents are often permanently
invisible and silent as a result of the cultural norms and structures
related to relinquishing their children (Lee, 2003; Steinberg & Hall, 2000).
Historically, read more…
Kathleen Ja Sook Bergquist, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Illinois State University, School of Social Work. M.S.W., Norfolk State University; Ph.D. in Counselor Education, The College of William and Mary
Domestic and international adoption legislation and practice has purported to take into account the “best interest of the child.”
More specifically, the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and subsequently the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption specifies as a goal, “to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child . . . .”
Given the significant increase in parents who adopt for reasons of infertility or as single parents, and the market demand which has arisen, it would be difficult for anyone to argue that international adoption today exists solely to find homes for parentless children. The purpose of this Paper is to examine the sociopolitical assumptions and implications that are inherent in the placing of children in the diaspora as involuntary immigrants, and whether in fact it is the best interests of the children that are considered. Asian adoption is herein positioned within the history of international adoption, transracial adoption, and shifting parental motivations for adoption.
International adoption in the United States began with the placement of children from Europe following World War II. It grew out of the need to find families for orphans, and was viewed as a humanitarian solution. This precedent paved the way for the Korean orphans beginning in 1954. These children were largely the products of U.S. and other allied nations’ presence in Korea, and President Rhee initiated the overseas adoption program in an effort to deal with the problem of thousands of illegitimate biracial children. The media’s ability to cover the Korean War and carry the plight of the orphans into the homes and hearts of middle America fueled rescue fantasies in a way that was not possible during World War II.
Harry Holt, an Oregon farmer and devout Christian, took on the personal mission to find families for the thousands of parentless children. Holt International continues Harry Holt’s work, placing more children from Korea than any other agency. The social upheaval and poverty of a country torn apart resulted in the continuation of Korean overseas adoption. Remarkably by the mid-1980s,
South Korea experienced rapid economic solvency through industrialization and urbanization, while overseas adoptions also reached a peak with over 6,000 children placed in the United States. China and Russia have since surpassed South Korea as sending countries. In 1991 China constituted 25 percent and Russia 22 percent of all international adoptions in the United States. Since 1998, between 4,000 and 5,000 Chinese children, mostly girls, have been adopted per annum by U.S. families. It is important to note that international adoption programs exist in many other Asian, Latin American, and Eastern European countries, although they are less significant as far as number of children placed. Particular recent media attention has read more…
Wendy Jacobs, B.Sc., B.A.
“The past is never fully gone. It is absorbed into the present and the future. It stays to shape what we are and what we do.”
Sir William Deane, Inaugural Lingiari Lecture, Darwin, 22 August 1996
Separating mother and child at birth was the way adoption was practiced in Australia in the latter half of last century. We have heard from other speakers about current knowledge regarding the mental health consequences of this separation. In this paper I look at adoption from a historical perspective, how adoption was practiced, what was known about the consequences of adoption, and what influence, if any, this knowledge had on adoption practice.
Brief history of adoption in Australia
Adoption was a social experiment in which babies born to unmarried mothers were taken at birth and given to strangers for adoption. It was claimed to be in the best interests of the child, who would be protected from the slur of illegitimacy and would have a better life in the adoptive family. Adoption enabled infertile married couples to have a family, and the State saved money on its welfare bill.
Adoption legislation was first introduced in Australia in the 1920s, but adoption was slow to be accepted, due to the belief that immorality and other evil tendencies were passed on from mother to child. After World War II, however, when environment was seen as more important than heredity in the development of the child, adoption became more popular. It was believed that mothers would not bond with their babies if the babies were taken immediately after birth, and the mothers were prevented from seeing them, and that babies would bond successfully with their adoptive families if they were placed as soon as possible after birth. All ties with the natural mother were then severed, the child was issued with a new birth certificate which showed him as being born to the adoptive parents, and the records were sealed.
Adoption was promoted as being in the best interests of the child. Mothers were expected to forget about their child and get on with their lives, get married and have children of their own. Adoption was seen as an instant ‘cure’ for infertility. None of these beliefs was based on any scientific evidence.
Reports from the 1950s of emotional problems in adoptees
In fact there were reports from Britain and the USA, from 1952 onwards, that a large number of children seen in child guidance clinics and other psychiatric services were adopted.
In 1952 a British psychiatrist, Wellisch, drew attention to a problem of adoption – the lack of knowledge of and definite relationship to one’s genealogy, which he termed genealogical bewilderment, and which could result in the stunting of emotional development in adopted children and could lead them to irrational rebellion against their adoptive parents and the world as a whole, and eventually to delinquency. This was echoed in 1955 by Winnicott, who said ignorance about their personal origin made read more…
Expectations and Experiences of Participants in Ongoing Adoption Reunion Relationships:A Qualitative Study
Marian K. Affleck, M. Psych & Lyndall G. Steed M. Psych, PhD; Curtin University of Technology
Abstract of Contents
This article describes the expectations, responses to unmet expectations, and factors that influence adoption reunion outcomes. Themes derived for interviews with 10 adult adoptees and 10 birth mothers who had each experienced an adoption reunion beyond an initial face-to-face meeting are reported.
Three aspects of ongoing adoption reunions were investigated: participants’ expectations, participants’ responses to unmet expectations, and factors that influence the reunion outcome. Participants were 10 adult adoptees1 and 10 birth mothers who had each experienced an adoption reunion beyond an initial face-to-face meeting. A qualitative phenomenological and interactionist approach was taken. A semi-structured interview was conducted and data analysed thematically. Numerous themes were identified including expectations regarding the model of relationship, the definition of mother, and whether or not desires are understood as rights. Responses to unmet expectations fell into three categories: one party reducing her expectations, withdrawing, or understanding the other’s behaviour as pathological. Conceptualisation of the reunion as either the acquisition of something external or as an internal process of personal growth is discussed. Implications of the findings are presented, including their appropriateness to clinical work with populations other than adoption reunion participants.
1 This paper uses the terms: adoptee to refer to an adopted person, of any age; birth parent to refer to biological parents, either mother or father; and adoptive parents for those who adopted a child. To reduce clumsiness of language, the feminine pronoun is used for adoptees, rather than he or she, his or her. Reference to all adoptees as feminine also protects the confidentiality of participants. Even direct quotes in the Results and Discussion section have been altered, where appropriate, to the feminine form to prevent any identification of participants.
Expectations and Experiences of Participants in Ongoing Adoption Reunion Relationships: A Qualitative Study
Although adoption of children has existed in some form for thousands of years it was not until the 1970s and 1980s that concern was expressed about its long-term consequences. While secrecy was considered to be of utmost importance in earlier adoption arrangements it was later recognised that lack of information for adoptees about their original parents prevents satisfactory identity formation and contributes to the well documented problems of adoptees (Kirk, 1964; Sorosky, Baran, & Pannor, 1975). After lobbying by professionals and those involved in adoption, changes in the law were made that made it legally possible for adult adoptees and birth parents to obtain both general and identifying information about the other, and to make contact. These changes have had huge ramifications, probably the greatest of which is the possibility of reunion. Such a reunion, while offering the freedom for birth parents and adoptees to find their “lost” family also carries potential threat whereby “secrets” may be disclosed. Consequently the thought of reunion evokes a myriad of mixed read more…
Kari El Hong California Western Law Review, Vol. 40, No. 1,
Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Utah have laws or regulations prohibiting gay men, lesbian women, same-sex couples, or single parents (heterosexual and homosexual) from serving as adoptive or foster parents. In court filings, Arkansas, Florida, and Utah justify their bans by contending that married couples are the optimal families in which to raise children because families headed by gay or single parents produce children who are more likely to be violent, miscreant, immoral, sexually promiscuous, or gay. These arguments, however, are contrary to all scientific findings made by mainstream child advocacy organizations and medical societies. These adoption bans further present a radical break from contemporary adoption placement practices by eschewing reliance on individualized findings with respect to whether a particular person can provide emotionally and financially for a specific child and instead deems a parent presumptively unfit based on with whom he or she does – or does not – reside.
A 150-year overview of adoption practices in the United States reveals that social reformers, government officials, and private vigilantes have misused the institution of adoption, removing children from their biological families if the parents were imputed to be morally or culturally inferior. As adoption was once the selected vehicle by which children were removed from immigrant, poor, and Native American homes – families who were considered deviant because they failed to conform to the social reformers’ ideal nuclear family – the contemporary adoption bans are used to prevent today’s “morally deficient” families from receiving children. The bans against gay parents are elucidated as repeating implicit mores in adoption practices: a parent can adopt a child within or below her caste, but never above it. Reviving the Eugenic Era’s mandate to save children from their parents’ moral pollution, the adoption bans thus are not providing for child welfare; rather, they are engaged in a much larger, and questionable, project.
Until the 1960s, the States exercised control over the means by which children were brought into families by denying access to contraception (Griswold and Eisenstadt) and abortion (Carey and Roe). These laws were invalidated because they unlawfully interfered with an individual’s decision to start a family. The adoption bans constitute analogous and impermissible constraints over a citizen’s ability to form a family by capriciously preventing a class of individuals from parenting the children over which the State may still lawfully regulate: foster care and adoption placements.
Likewise, in the foster care context, Bell v. Burson, Stanley v. Illinois, and Smith v. OFFER prohibit a state from codifying an irrebuttable presumption of unfitness in the law. A fatal flaw of the adoption bans is that they circumvent a sophisticated process to which every other prospective parent is subjected: an extensive home study and assiduous evaluation to determine whether a parent’s behavior, conduct, lifestyle, and judgment will harm a child. Under Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, when an existing administrative procedure addresses a particular read more…
Julianne M. Walsh: Department of Anthropology University of Hawai`i at Manoa
From 1996-1999 over 500 children were adopted from the Marshall Islands by Americans, placing the RMI well within the top twenty source nation for international adoptions. Without government regulation of this sudden and rapidly growing phenomenon, the potential for misunderstanding and exploitation grew alarming to national leaders who supported a moratorium on foreign adoptions late in 1999. This paper examines possible causes of foreign adoption in a society where customary adoptions have until recent years been among the highest in the Pacific. Social and economic marginalization in recent years combined with understandings of America and Americans based on historic relations are linked to the growth of a “baby business” whose social, legal, cultural, and emotional implications have yet to be imagined, much less addressed. Key words: Marshall Islands, adoption, US relations, economy, identity, immigration.
Prepared for “Out of Oceania: Diaspora, Community, and Identity” conference sponsored by the Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai`i at Manoa. October 22, 1999, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Since 1996 the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) has experienced a sudden and sharp increase in the number of foreign adoptions of Marshallese children. While many are bewildered by this phenomenon, this essay will attempt to explain the development of the RMI “baby business,” and explore local understandings of adoption and the historical relationship with America and Americans that inform understandings of American adoptions of Marshallese children. I will also assert that the social and economic marginalization of birth parents in this hierarchical and economically dependent nation is a tremendous factor in the relinquishing of children to American parents. This essay presents the experiences and views of many people involved in and impacted by these adoptions, and considers the potential cultural, economic, emotional, and legal consequences of the adoptions.
The adoptions that I will discuss are not traditional ones, like those significantly addressed in anthropological literature concerning “transactions in kinship” prevalent in Pacific Island societies (Carroll 1970; Brady 1976), though there are a few similarities. These are “open” adoptions of children of all ages by American families. They require ongoing contact between families at least until the child reaches the age of eighteen.
This essay will attempt to address the following questions: With a tradition of family and intraclan adoption centuries old, why are Marshallese families offering their children to Americans? Why are Americans looking to the Marshalls to fulfill their desire for children? What are the consequences for this currently silent migrant community, for their birth parents, their adoptive families, and their American communities?
These questions are particularly salient, and indeed, current. In late September 1999, the Marshall Islands Parliament (Nitijela) passed a moratorium on the adoption of Marshallese children by non-Marshall Islanders.
Before this bill was passed into law, no regulation for adoption of Marshallese children by non-Marshall Islanders existed. All adoptions proceeded without government intervention or monitoring. The read more…
Addressing the Psycho-Social Implications in Social Policy: The Case of Adoption and Early Intervention Strategies
A Research Paper submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Public Policy at Victoria University of Wellington
ANN WEAVER: Victoria University
New Zealand Government policy and legislation has tended to follow a shor-term‘out-put’ rather than a long-term ‘outcome’ model. Furthermore, the psycho-social implications of policies and legislation have at times not been adequately addressed. This paper argues that it is essential to address likely implications for it is more effective for individuals and more efficient for the State to work in an ‘early intervention model’ than to work in a ‘crisis model’.
The example used is the Adoption Act 1955. The first part of the paper examines the Act and its aftermath to show its negative impact on women who relinquished children for adoption (birthmothers) during the period of closed adoption in the years 1950 – 1980. The second part of the paper investigates options for mitigating this impact. The Government’s notion of well-being introduced in 1994 is examined to show the difficulty of defining the notion, measuring it and applying it effectively to policy and legislation.
The paper is based on an analysis of international and New Zealand studies about the impact of past adoption policies and practices on women who relinquished their children. Some gaps in the literature, for example relating to the economic consequences of adoption, are identified.
Human capital theory and social capital theory are introduced as two theoretical perspectives most relevant to the points presented.
The paper concludes with recommendations about cost effective early intervention strategies (counselling for example) which could be used to better address the needs of birthmothers.
I would like to thank all those people who have supported, encouraged and guided me through the adventure of writing and producing this paper. I am grateful to my colleagues for coping during my absences, and my special thanks goes to those close to me who have been there for me during this time, and surprisingly, are still there. Finally, I would like to thank all those Mothers who have shared their stories with me over the years, this paper is for you.
This research examines the degree to which Government policy/legislation is strategic, in that it tends to follow a short term “output” rather than long term “outcome” model.
From my understanding and experience I contend that it is more effective for individuals, and more efficient for the state to pursue an “early intervention” strategy than to work from the current “crisis intervention” mode. Early intervention means addressing “causes” in a timely fashion, rather than addressing “symptoms” at the crisis point. There are, of course, reasons why the state does not respond this way. These reasons include: targeting issues; fiscal responsibilities; favouring instant political results; State Sector reforms that began in 1984; and difficulty in making change. Yet, the literature demonstrates read more…
Margaret F. Brinig Professor of Law, George Mason University School of Law
The law and economics of parent and child involves several models. Before the child becomes part of the family, the actions of the parents resemble those of market participants, with the appropriate paradigm contract. Nonetheless, the fact that children are the ‘goods’ over which adults bargain, mandates some government intrusion on contractual freedom. Once parents and child form a family, the social importance of the relationship and the legal helplessness of the child suggest that the relationship differs significantly from contract. In fact, the ongoing family is in many respects like a firm, and the principal-agent paradigm aids understanding. When the children become adults, or when the family is divided by divorce, the relationship of parent and child change but do not disappear. The relationship then approaches the franchise.
PDF of: 1800 PARENT AND CHILD