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Dec/Jan 2005Vol. 5, No. 10Adjustment in Child Welfare Adoptions--A Comparison

Children adopted from child welfare show some differences in their adjustment when compared to the adjustment of children adopted domestically as infants and those adopted in intercountry adoptions. In addition, all adopted groups show some differences in their adjustment when compared to birth children. These are some of the findings of a study designed to increase the available data about children adopted from child welfare and their needs.

Parents of 1,340 children adopted from child welfare, 89 from intercountry adoptions, 481 from domestic infant adoptions, and 175 birth children completed extensive surveys to assess their children's adjustment at home, in school, and in the wider community, as well as their children's mental and physical health. All children were age 6 years and older at the time of the survey.

The overall findings reflected much of the previous adoption literature in showing both the positive experience of adoptive families across all adoption types, as well as the challenges faced by many adoptive families when compared to birth families. On almost every measure, adoptive families reported higher percentages of problems than did birth families, and the highest level was found in children adopted from child welfare. However, parental satisfaction among all adoptive groups was high, and 93 to 95 percent of parents indicated they would adopt their child again.

The researchers note that there are many emotional issues that may be associated with behavior problems in children in all types of adoptions. While the level of problems was found to be highest in those adopted from child welfare, followed by those in intercountry adoptions, there is a need for early intervention and postadoption services for all of these families, addressing the full range of child and family needs. Differentiating the problems that are more common in each group may help in the planning of postadoption services.

The full text of this article, " A Comparative Study of Child Welfare Adoptions with Other Types of Adopted Children and Birth Children," can be found in Volume 7(3) of Adoption Quarterly. Information on subscribing can be found at

Related Item

Another article about comparing different adoption groups, "Study Explores Use, Helpfulness of Post-Adoption Services," appeared in the June/July 2003 issue of Children's Bureau Express.