Recently, one of our readers asked if we would write an article about the difficulties faced by children and adults who were adopted. This is submitted in answer to that request. All names and places are fictionalized:
Family LifeEducationAdoption and Foster Care A child who has been abandoned or removed from the care of both birth parents can gain much from being adopted into a loving family. Adoptive families typically provide the children in their care with residence in a safe, supportive neighborhood, attendance at a well-functioning, high-achieving school, and love, emotional support, and intellectual stimulation at home.
Yet adopted children and their parents often encounter unexpected difficulties, especially when the child gets to school. Department of Education shows just how prevalent learning and behavioral issues are among adopted students in elementary, middle, and high school.
The data derive from a survey of the parents and guardians of a nationally-representative sample of 14, students in public, private, charter, and home schools across the country.
As the figure below shows, adopted students were: On the other hand, adopted students were no more likely than other students to be absent often from school for 11 or more days during the school year. When we used regression analysis to adjust the academic performance indicators for disparities across groups in related factors like parent education, family income, and age, sex, and race of the students, we found that adopted students continued to have significantly higher problem rates.
Indeed, because adoptive families tend to be well above average in income and educational attainment,6 the statistical adjustments sometimes magnified the differences in problem frequencies.
After adjustment, the odds on adopted students repeating a grade or having a parent contacted for behavioral issues were 4 times higher than those for students living with married birth parents. The odds of having parents contacted for schoolwork problems were three times higher, and the odds of being suspended or expelled were 2.
Adopted students had greater odds than students from single-parent or step-families of having parents contacted for schoolwork or behavior problems, and of repeating a grade.
Their odds of being suspended were not significantly different from those of students with single or step parents. All of these proportions were significantly higher than those for non-adopted students, which are shown in the figure below.
In comparison, the proportion of students living with both married birth parents who had a severe emotional disturbance was only one percent.
These proportions were double those among non-adopted students. Three percent of adopted children were deaf or hearing-impaired, and the same proportion were blind or vision-impaired.
However, these proportions were not significantly different than those for students who were not adopted.
After adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, the odds of a student being diagnosed with one of the psychological or physical conditions mentioned above were five times higher for adopted students than for students living with both married parents.
They were also significantly higher than for students in single- or step-parent families, as well as those living with cohabiting biological parents.
The odds of such a disturbance were comparable to those for students living with foster parents or grandparents and significantly greater than for those living with single- or step-parents. To answer that question, the figure below compares adopted students with and without a diagnosed condition on the same achievement and adjustment indicators presented in Figure 1.
As shown in Figure 3 below, they appeared to have higher rates of suspension and parent contact for classroom behavior problems. The latter differences were not statistically significant, however.
Nor was an apparent difference in the proportion of students who did not enjoy going to school. After adjusting for demographic and socioeconomic factors, the odds of being suspended were more than 3 times higher for adopted students with a condition and 2 times higher for adopted students without a condition.
The odds of having parents contacted for problem behavior were nearly 5 times higher for adopted students with a condition and 3 times higher for those without a condition.Yet adopted children and their parents often encounter unexpected difficulties, especially when the child gets to school.
2 Our analysis of newly-released data from the U.S. Department of Education shows just how prevalent learning and behavioral issues are among adopted students in elementary, middle, and high school.
Adoptinfo. An adoption issue is a problem that preoccupies and distresses an adopted child and is related to adoption. For example, fear that a birthparent might kidnap the child is an adoption issue.
Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder and director of the Attachment & Bonding Center of Ohio. He is an internationally known psychologist and trainer who addresses the issues of trauma, adoption, and post-adoption challenges.
Psychological Issues Faced By Adopted Children And Adults Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Recently, one of our readers asked if we would write an article about the difficulties faced by children and adults who were adopted. Adopted children may struggle with self-esteem and identity development issues more so than their non-adopted peers.
Identity issues are of particular concern for teenagers who are aware that they are adopted and even more so, for those adopted in a closed or semi-open circumstance. The Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) collects case-level information on all children in foster care and those who have been adopted with title IV-E agency involvement.
See Reporting Systems for more information.