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March 2011Vol. 12, No. 2Promoting Stable Families Through Postadoption Support

Postadoption support services are vitally important to sustain and strengthen adoptive families. Adoptees with histories of abuse, neglect, or lengthy institutionalization may confront significant challenges throughout their childhood. Without ongoing assistance and support for the children and their parents, many of these adoptions are at risk of disruption or dissolution. A new report issued by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute reviews existing postadoption programs and identifies directions for the development of effective models of postadoption practices.

The report, Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed, explores the range of challenges faced by adoptive families, assesses the extent to which current policy and practice meet their needs, and illustrates the risk and protective factors shaping positive, as well as more negative, adjustments. Several chapters also address evidence-based and promising practices in postadoption, as well as the different types of postadoption services models currently in use.

According to author Susan Livingston Smith, while adopted children are at a greater risk of experiencing emotional or behavioral problems, the majority of adopted youth are functioning within the normal range, and well over 90 percent of parents are satisfied with their adoptions. Nevertheless, many families are not able to access essential services while raising children with past histories of abuse, neglect, or institutionalization. With that in mind, the report offers some recommendations for improving postadoption support:

  • Build a national task force to implement strategies and legislative initiatives geared towards the development of postadoption services
  • Establish private and Federal funding to secure a reliable financial base for postadoption services
  • Provide educational opportunities and adoption-competent counseling programs
  • Develop a comprehensive continuum of adoption services at local, county, and State levels

Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed is available on the Adoption Institute website: (1,003 KB)

Related Item

A new toolkit from the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC), Advocating for Post-Adoption Support: Tools to Promote Parent-Led and Child-Driven Services, highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of comprehensive postpermanency support programs. The toolkit is designed to help adoptive and guardianship parents, adoption professionals, community providers, legislators and others work toward establishing effective postpermanency support programs. Find the report on the NACAC's website: (1.34 MB)