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November/December 2001Vol. 2, No. 6New Study Looks at Success Rates of Adoptions of Children from Foster Care

A recently published study addresses gaps in knowledge about post-adoption dissolutions and the post-adoption service needs of adoptive parents.

Funded by a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to the New York City Administration for Children's Services, the study was led by Trudy Festinger, D.S.W., of New York University. Entitled After Adoption: A Study of Placement Stability and Parents' Service Needs, it was based on a survey of more than 400 New York families who adopted children from foster care in 1996.

One question the study examined was whether a recent increase in the numbers of adoptions from foster care might result in a greater proportion of them failing. The study found adoption dissolution to be an infrequent event.

Another topic was the effectiveness of post-adoption services that are provided to adoptive families. The study found some room for improvement in this area. Lack of information about where to turn for help and the prohibitive cost of services, such as tutoring and summer camp, were cited most often by parents as barriers.

Festinger notes that the study was limited by its geographic limit to children adopted in New York City, most of whom were, at the time of the interviews still living in New York City or its immediate environs. She also notes that telephone interviews are inherently limited because they need to be relatively short and the data consisted of self-reports by adoptive parents.

Among the suggestions proposed to address the needs of adoptive parents are:

  • Help adoptive parents locate and establish connections to community supports, e.g., a resource guide, adoptive parent telephone groups and buddy systems.
  • Develop post-adoption services according to family needs—not agency capabilities—by contracting for services if necessary, e.g., tutoring.
  • Establishing neighborhood-based foster or "resource" parent cluster support groups, in partnership with post-adoption service providers.

Festinger observes that parents who adopt children from the foster care system not only are giving a child a better chance in life by providing a permanent, loving home but also are providing a fiscal savings by eliminating the administrative costs paid to supervising agencies. She concludes that post-adoption service subsidies for adoptive families are a small price to pay for these benefits. The availability of these services may even encourage more potential adoptive families to adopt children waiting in foster care.

To obtain a copy of this study, contact:

Trudy Festinger
Ehrenkranz School of Social Work
New York University
1 Washington Square North
New York, NY 10003
Phone: 212-998-5974