Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Adoptions in the US: Who is Adopting and How are the Kids Doing?

August 17, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 33
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Adoptions in the US: Who is Adopting and How are the Kids Doing?
Show Notes Transcript

We talk with Ryan Hanlon, with National Council for Adoption, about the largest survey of adoptive parents ever conducted. We talk about who adoptive parents are, the needs of the kids adopted, and so much more.

In the episode, we cover:

  • Who is adopting in the US? How are they similar and how do they differ from the general population of parents in relation to income and education level?
  • What are the primary motivations for parents to adopt? Does it differ based on domestic infant adoption, international adoption, and foster care adoption?
  • What type of special needs or diagnoses do adopted children have?
    • How well are adoptive parents meeting these needs?
  • How are adopted kids doing in school?
  • What degree of openness or contact with birth families is common for infant adoption, intercountry adoption, and adoptions from foster care?
  • How do adoptive parents view their relationship with birth families?
  • How common are attachment issues in adoption and what factors contribute to attachment problems?
  • How are parents meeting the needs of transracially adopted children?
  • How satisfied are adoptive parents with the decision to adopt? Knowing what they know now, would they do it again?

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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription.
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport, I am both the host of the show, as well as the director of creating a part means we have a website, obviously, and that our website is full of lots and lots of information that is directly relevant to your adoption or fostering or kinship, parenting journey. So check it out, creating a Today, we're going to be talking with Ryan Hanlon, Acting President and CEO of the National Council for Adoption. And we're going to be talking about adoptions in the US who is adopting and how are the kids doing? Welcome, Ryan to Creating a Family.

Thanks for having me, Dawn, it's great to be here.

I am fascinated by this research project that you have have embarked on and it is an ambitious product. Project. Sorry. You know, it is it's titled profiles and adoption, and it is the largest survey of adoptive parents ever conducted. And that is, Well, number one, it's ambitious. So congratulations on having the guts to. And it's fascinating, absolutely fascinating to me, that that we know so little in so many ways about adoption, isn't that? I think it's strange, don't you?

You know it, you're exactly right on. And let me start by saying we didn't set out to have the largest study of adoptive parents, we, we were thrilled when we got such a large response. But you put your finger on it right from the beginning, there were some really very basic questions about adoption and adoptive parents and adoptive families that we didn't have good answers to. And so this is the first of three parts where we did a survey of adoptive parents, we will be doing a survey of birth parents with a particular focus on birth mothers experiences. And we're going to be doing one on adopted individuals to hear from all of them. But you're right, this is a it ended up being the largest study of adoptive parents, we heard from 4135 households, even more parents, but those were just represented households. And of those households, they represented over 6600 adopted individuals. So we heard from a lot of these parents, and we heard from from parents who adopted from the public system, you know, through foster care, we heard from parents who did a private domestic adoption and parents who did an inter country adoption.

And so that's going to that that framework we're going to use to guide our interview today. Because I think that we need to discuss how anything we talk about differs depending on the type of adoption, if it differs, and it might well not. Alright, so let's jump in and talk about some of your findings. And again, I'm going to recommend, and we will link to the survey when it is published. But so this will be we will link to it. But I don't encourage people to read the entire thing. However, we're gonna hit some of the high points. So let's start by talking about adoptive parents, do you see a difference between people who adopt domestic infants versus people who adopt internationally versus people who adopt from foster care? And that's a pretty broad question, I realized,

yeah. So there are things we can say that are similar between all types of adoptive parents, they're very highly educated. When you compare them to the general public, adoptive parents have very high education. So the majority of adoptive parents have a college degree. That's not true for the majority of adults in the United States. But actually, a very large percentage of adoptive parents have a master's or doctoral degree as well. There are changes, there are differences between types of adoption there. But it's true for all types of adoption that adoptive parents on average, are very highly educated. They have you know, more than average, they're one of the spouses will have have present or past military service experience. They are more often than the general public religious. And they tend to have a there's a pretty wide range of income for adoptive parents. And that's one of the areas where I'd say there's a difference by type of adoption, where you really see that families who are adopting from foster care tend to have a lower mean income or average income compared to families that are doing say, a private domestic adoption, where the average income there is quite high, compared to not just parents who are adopting from foster care, but the average income in the United States, those households tend to have a higher income.

And we're going to talk in a minute about the costs. But what you say makes perfectly good sense but based on the cost, because private domestic infant adoption and inter country adoption are obviously more expensive than if and when maybe not and others, but they are more expensive than adopting from foster care. Right. All right. So let's talk about the motivation as to what motivates. And again, let's use the framework if it differs between the adopting from domestic and adopting a domestic infant in the US or inter country adoption or foster care adoption, what motivates what are the motivating factors? Why do people adopt?

Yeah, that's another great question. And again, one of the areas where we found a very wide range, we listed seven potential motivations. And then we had an ace answer is just other, and we asked them to select all that would apply. And the majority of respondents in, you know, for that question, we had, you know, many 1000s of parents respond, the majority chose multiple responses. And the follow up question was what what was your primary motivation here? For private, private domestic adoption, the primary motivation was infertility. It was over 37% of those families said that was the primary motivation. But a very large percentage also said they want were looking to extend their family, or they wanted to provide a permanent home to their family. And so you know, I think one of the findings that's interesting here is that many people think that is the sole reason that that parents pursue private domestic adoption. And here we're seeing that you know, more than half of the parents that's not their primary motivation, it might not even be something that they have experienced. And certainly when we look at inter-country or adoption from foster care, infertility is far less common of a motivation in, you know, by those types of adoption. In our country, the primary reason given by most that was most chosen by respondents was that they were looking to extend their family over a quarter of parents said that another nearly a quarter said they were looking to provide a permanent home for a child. And that is actually what the largest number of respondents selected for adoption from foster care. And over 37% said, they were looking to provide a permanent home for a family or for a child. And so when you know, when we're looking at that these parents are saying that they're motivated by their, you know, their family, growing their family, and having their family be a place for a child who's in need of a family, you know, those those options were selected by, you know, all three types of adoption, much more so than things like, say, an altruistic desire to help, you know, this isn't just charity, this is something that was, you know, focused on the family unit.

Yeah, I thought some of the of the motivating factors the options were infertility providing a permanent home for a child to extend their family, give a child a sibling adopt adopt, or they adopted child who was related, religious calling altruistic desire to help a child or other. And they were all interesting, but the infertility one, as you mentioned, for private infant adoption, it was a little over 37%. For international adoption, it was 17%, right at 17%. from foster care was right at 16%. The other one that I thought was interesting, was religious calling. And the stats there are for private infant adoption, a little over 6%. For inter country adoption, if you round up, it would actually be 18%. It's and then for adopting from foster care, rounded, it would be 10%. So I thought that was interesting as well, not surprising to those of us in the adoption world. But I did think that was interesting.

Yeah, that's, you put your finger on another one where there's a bigger difference between types of adoption. And it is interesting. And, you know, we didn't delve into that question more. So I don't want to put words in these parents mouths, as you say, Done, those of us who've worked in the field, I think, are not going to be surprised by this, where we've seen that there are, you know, many individuals who are already connected to overseas, you know, religious work and other things that are connecting them to other countries. And that might be part of the reason why they're called to pursue adoption. Whereas from, you know, foster care or private domestic, you know, it's often looking more so at meeting a child's needs, you know, providing a place for a child or you know, as we've seen for private domestic for as a response to infertility.

You know, and I also want your rent and I am also not trying to put words and mouth and I haven't even read the, their their comments but in the early days of the what was called the Orphans care movement that the Ministry of many churches, the focus in I think this has changed I know it has changed but in the early days, the focus was more on adopting international like, and and I and you had all ages have children. So an all families who had adopted a long time ago and families who had recently adopted, but I wonder if that played a role to in the people being called from their religious religious faith to adopt because there was that focus for a while, and it's since shifted, but

you write it down, that was something that we heard more commonly, you know, even like two decades ago, or so, when we think through adoption, the majority of the respondents to this survey, though, have adopted in the last five years. Oh, so we're seeing that these are more recent, we had a, we had a very large response, you know, and so we have families that adopted decades ago, as well. And for some of these categories, we even broke it up and looked at it, you know, if we don't know if we're going to talk about maintaining relationships with birth family, or open adoption relationships later on, but there we look at, you know, by timeframe, and how they are responding. You know, I think, I think when it comes to motivation, one of the things that is often criticized is, you know, what the adoptive parents motivation is, and so one of the things I've seen, you know, having worked in the field for a few decades, is that it's easy to criticize any motivation. But oftentimes, there's a reluctance to say what the motivation should be. And so, you know, we might attack any of these and say, well, these are wrong, or these are bad. And without being able to put our finger on and say, well, the motivation should be x and the motive or the motivation should be why. And I don't think I don't think we have answers here to say it should be one or the other, I think what we can do is we can look at what motivations are, and then look at other outcomes, you know, what, for families, the that we're looking to that infertility was the primary motivation, does that have a difference in child welfare outcomes later on, or, you know, family functioning, or attachment, that sort of thing, it can be helpful for us, but I think this information can also be helpful for social workers, if they're having a conversation, say with a prospective adoptive parent, or a family who's struggling in post adoption, they can be talking through Well, what were your motivations, you know, where your expectations met, and making sure that it can be a launching point for I think, a deeper conversation. But I would, I would want to be clear, I don't think that one of these categories is altogether wrong. And one of these, or one of these categories is the right answer. And we're just seeing a sliver, you know, have selected the right or the wrong answer. I think this is showing that there often is a wide range for what's motivating adoption. And as I said, you know, this in our report here is showing the primary motivation, many parents would have selected, you know, or did select multiple motivations. I know that's true for myself as an adoptive parent, I wouldn't be able to just say yes to one of these, I'd be saying yes to multiple of these.

And I would be in the same boat. I always just find the whole criticism about motivation. I find it quite weird. I mean, how many, I also have children by birth. And I mean, nobody ever talks to me about what motivated me to have to decide to get pregnant and to give birth. Nobody asks me that question. And nobody judges me. And quite frankly, my motivations would be, you know, multiple there as well. Yeah, human beings are pretty complex.

We sure are done. And, you know, I agree with you, I'm, I'm reluctant to join the critics who are going to be criticizing motivation. I do know that in the past, the field of adoption has been often had the wrong focus, where if not having a consumerism mindset, where the mindset has been, how are we getting children for families, as opposed to how are we providing families to children who need it? And I do believe that's changed in and it's continuing to change, you know, but for the last few decades, that that has been a dramatic change within the field. And so I think part of this might be the legacy of past adoption practices from many, many decades past, where, you know, there's a concern that we're not enough focused on, what do what's going to be in the interests of children as opposed to children wanting?

Yeah, I totally. I totally agree. And then we're going to move off of this but I do agree also that I am more interested in what family's expectations are at which is motivation can influence that. So I think it's a valid question because I think unmet expectations are a real issue and for the professionals in the field of obviously as well as for the children. We have a free resource for you. The Jacobin family foundation has supported us offering you 12 free online courses, you can go to the this is a shortened link Bitly slash Should JP F support that's bi D F support. And you can see all the titles one title, just as an example is how trauma impacts a child's development. And that can obviously just be great across the board to help you understand how to be the best parent your child, these courses come with a certificate of completion. And so they can be utilized or check check with your agency. But so far all agencies have accepted them as part of their foster parent continuing ed, your agency may use it as part of your pre adoption education again, you will need to check with them. But anyway, that's available. We hope you use them. And thank you so much Jackie being family. All right, now let's talk about the section about it's the section is meeting the children's needs after adoption. What are some of the needs? And again, let's break it down by domestic infant, inter-country and foster, what are some of the diagnosis one of the way of identifying needs and the way that you chose which makes good sense is to How is the child been? What diagnoses do these children have? What did you find out there?

Yeah, down. This is the section of the research that I am, I would say I'm the most excited about, and I'm the most worried about? Because I want to, you know, I think what we're what we're wanting to do is we talked about this just now set expectations and help future adoptive parents have a good understanding. We also don't want to be adding to any stigma this is this is not a reflection that adoption is bad, or children are bad or special needs are a negative thing or diagnoses are negative. But rather, you know, I think often what we see in response to dissection in particular, is how very well adoptive parents and adoptive families are meeting particular needs that children have. And these would be needs that they have, even if they weren't placed for adoption. So it's tricky to try and message both of those things, and properly help set expectations. But you're exactly right. So what we did was, we asked parents to for a series of questions, attachment disorders, sensory processing disorder, learning disorder, or, you know, a DD or ADHD, we asked them if the child had received a diagnosis from a specialist, a doctor or a specialist. In those fields, we were looking to, we phrased it that way, you know, was there a diagnosis? Because we didn't just want, you know, parents saying, Well, I think my kid, you know, has this or not, this is something that where a diagnosis is very much possible. And so we we framed it that way, in terms of the findings, for private domestic adoption, you know, of those categories, around 17% said that the child had a diagnosis of a DD or ADHD, for inter country adoption, the largest response was for a learning disorder. There was also that was over a quarter of the parents said that a quarter of the children, the parents were responding to a learning disorder, and nearly a quarter had AD D or ADHD, for adoption from foster care, the largest response was a learning disorder at over 31% Sorry, the largest was a DD or ADHD at 41%. Also learning disorder at 31%. So this is an area where there were more responses, higher percentages for those who adopted from foster care, you know, on average, children are an older age that are adopted from foster care. And so I think that is one of the factors that's likely contributing to this. We also know that children in foster care are receiving services, they're, you know, they're often more connected to service providers and those who can make a diagnosis. So this might just be better identification of what could be true for the general population, or the population of individuals who are adopted, because they're in the presence of more service providers who are, you know, able to, you know, make such a diagnosis.

It's a it's a tricky field, I mean, a tricky area, because it's, it's complex one we know kids from foster care have, by virtue of the fact that they're in foster care have experienced, most most of them have experienced neglect or abuse, or at least some forms of trauma. And so that obviously impacts but they also have access to services, their medical is covered so that getting a diagnosis works. I mean, they're able to get a diagnosis. So it's, you know, and I and the same with and you talked about income levels of parents who are adopting domestic infants and in our country well, income matters when it comes to getting a diagnosis. You know, like it or not, that's the reality if you have money to take your and and education level probably place in there. You know that have, you know, having read a lot and know and say, Oh, well, this may be so taking children to the doctor? Yeah. So it's, it's tricky because we also don't want to paint the picture that adoptive kids are getting, you know, we hear that we hear the, you know, under the rumbling, the undercurrent is adopted kids have all these problems when in fact, you know, that isn't the case,

they often they often have parents who are very responsive, who are who are not afraid to be, you know, working with service providers who are looking to help meet their needs and looking for their children to thrive. And so that's often reflected here, as you said, you know, adoptive parents, on average are going to have higher income than the larger population, they're going to have more of an ability to help meet needs. And children who are adopted from foster care often continue to have access to public services that can be connected there. You know, Don, the after we asked about diagnosis, we then asked a few categories where whether the children had received particular services, so not necessarily a diagnosis, but they had actually received a therapeutic service for that we asked if they had speech therapy, occupational therapy, or have received mental health services. And again, you know, higher percentages than someone might initially think, which I think is a reflection of, you know, how parents are helping meet needs. And so, you know, this was an area where there's a pretty stark difference, especially if you compare private domestic adoption to adoption from foster care. Across the board, the numbers are higher, you know, in comparing those two, they're higher for adoption from foster care. But I think this is going to be a reflection for all parents that are considering adoption, that they should have in mind, the likelihood that their child will be receiving no one or more of these services, nearly 20%, in all three of those categories are true for all types of adoption, some of them much more. So for adoption from foster care, over 50% of this children had received a mental health service, it was 54%. For inter country adoption, over 40% had received speech therapy and nearly 40% had had some type of mental health service, nearly 30% had occupational therapy. And you know, the same is true for private domestic adoption, where over 20% and had speech therapy, over 20% have had mental health services. So these are families that are getting services for their children. And I think that's a really positive reflection here. I'm hopeful that our research helps normalize the need to obtain services. And that's true for for many, many of our children, regardless of how they joined our family. And so, you know, but but for those parents who are just thinking about adoption, or they're preparing, planning, in adoption, lining up, who's going to be my speech therapy provider who's going to do occupational therapy? Where are their available mental health services? How does this work with my health insurance? Those are really important questions to have answers to. And it's not always a straightforward process, you know, those of us who've been down that road, looking for therapeutic providers, it can take some time. And the best time to do that is before the adoption happens.

Hmm. Knowing who you could use? Absolutely. And who is covered by your insurance? Exactly. Yeah. Out of curiosity, I was surprised by it in foster care, I would the percentage of children receiving mental health services was 54%. I honestly thought it would be higher, and maybe it's covered. We we know these children have had major disruptions in their lives. Why wouldn't we want them we encourage all families who are fostering and adopting kids from foster care, even if the child does give the child a safe place to understand all this upheaval in their life. I was surprised and it's covered there, it shouldn't be covered. There is a sad lack of and a very frustrating lack of of good mental health services in general, certainly for for children. So it could be reflective of that. But were you saying all surprised by that? I thought it would be higher.

You know, you know, I think what would be interesting would be to compare that to the population within the child welfare system in general, as opposed to just those who had been adopted from foster care. I don't know, you know, what, what that would tell us, I think there's going to be a wide range of children who are placed for adoption. And certainly even by age, often younger children aren't receiving mental health services. And so you know, if, if we can, if we know that, on average children that are being placed for adoption are younger compared to the general foster care population, that might help explain it in part, but I think it's also something where we need to be continuing to educate, you know, the general population and adoptive families in particular to distinct minimize the use of mental health services, and to, as you said, help make them more widely available, because there is a lack of good service providers. Certainly what I've seen is that they range is quite differently geographically. And so there are some areas, some communities where there are a number of really good providers in other areas where there's no one, even within, you know, reasonable driving distance, you know, who can be a provider there. And so, you know, I think much more work needs to be done in that regard.

Yeah, that a raise a really good point. And as you were speaking, I also thought, yes, children who are adopted from foster care, tend to be younger. And most of the families you said that responded, had adopted within the last five years. So their children are still relatively young. So yeah,

yeah, that's right. That's exactly right. And, and that's going to be reflective than for private domestic adoption. It could be that as those children get older, they might, those families or those individuals might be seeking out more services that would be helpful or useful for them.

So how are kids who are adopted? How are they doing in school? And again, if you'd break it out by infant, international and foster care?

Yeah, on the whole, they're doing great. The majority of adoptees have good educational performance, according to their parents. There's a pretty wide range of respondents, especially amongst you know, adoption from foster care, there's a very wide range. But for for all categories, we asked, you know, five different five different ratings, you know, from Excellent, very good, good, fair or poor. There were responses in each of those categories for all types of adoption, as there would be, you know, for children who are non adopted. And I think we asked two different questions, we asked parents to describe the children's educational performance the children by adoptions educational performance, and we asked whether they were receiving an educational accommodation, either an IEP plan, 504 plan, or some other type of educational accommodation. And I think I think the key takeaway here for parents is on hole adoptees do very well, educationally, they'd have good performance, there's also a very high rate of receiving an educational accommodation of some sort. So, you know, if you're looking to pursue adoption, you know, having information about how to work with your school system on forming an IEP plan or a 504 plan is going to be important. And that's it's more true for those who are adopted from foster care, there's a over 41%, or over 44%, excuse me, of those children have an IEP plan, another nearly 11%, are have a 504 plan. And, you know, when we compare that to private domestic adoption, um, 27% have an IEP plan for in our country 32% have an IEP plan. So there's a pretty big difference between type of adoption, it's also going to be connected, you know, very much to things like special needs, children who have might need a physical accommodation in the school system, that would be reflected here. And those of us who've been down this road with our kids, no, IEP plans, 504 plans, that's not a reflection of educational ability or intelligence in any way. That's the recognition that children might need a different setting or accommodation of some sort with throughout their school day. And that that is going to have very wide ranges, it might be connected to something like speech and language services that have nothing to do with, you know, whether or not the children has cognitive disorders or disabilities of some sort. And so, you know, the educational performance that children have is reflected here where parents are saying, very large percentages, are saying for really all three types that their children are doing very well, educationally. They're also saying that many of them have an educational accommodation. And so think parents, that that shouldn't be their expectation. But again, recognizing that there's a very wide range, the majority of children who are adopted private domestic adoption don't have an educational accommodation. So we don't want to say that, that it necessarily will happen, but enough do that we'd want parents to be prepared for that.

Yeah, absolutely. Hey, guys, I have a personal favor to ask. I am looking to find a couple of people, a lot of people who are listeners to this show to talk to I just want to pick your brain about what have you found the show, things you like about the show things you'd like to see different whatever. I just want to learn more from the from the horse's mouth so to speak. You guys are who we are trying to say That's fine. And so we could do surveys and stuff. And I think that's the typical way that other podcasts have been doing it. But we thought we would just do an actual phone call. So if you were willing to talk to me, and let me pick your brain, I would really appreciate it, you can get information about that, or we can sign up or not sign up, but I can reach out to you and we'll set up a time. But you can do that by emailing info at creating a That's info inf o at creating a And I really appreciate it. Thanks. The next section I am, I am very interested in and that is the whole idea of openness or contact, and you actually define to contact and not open this question we get, and I'm sure you get it as well, is what percentage of adoptions in the US now are open. And that's the term that people will use. Right? And then it's it's an undefined term. So that's frustrating, because you don't know how to answer the question, because we don't know what everybody is, you know, what do we mean by openness? Yeah, yeah. But anyway, but you so you defined it apparently, as context. So, so answer that question. We did,

we actually asked a lot of questions, there's, there's almost no good way to go about this, when you're creating a survey, because as you've said, there is no way to define this, right. And you might have initially had a relationship, but then you're not, you know, maintained, or vice versa, you know, might not have had one and then there's, you know, later that there's a relationship that's formed, it might be frequent, it might be sporadic, we did ask a lot of questions around this. And what you and I are looking at in terms of, you know, contact with birth family after adoption, is really getting at the idea that there's some relationship there. And how we looked at that was by type of adoption, as we've been discussing, but then also by timeframe. So when we surveyed parents in 2021, we then looked at the prior 10 years, so 2011, to 2021, for private domestic adoption, three fourths of those families have contact with birth family, for intercountry adoption, you know, just over 10% do so very wide range there for adoption from foster care, it was right around 43% that have contact with birth family. And, but one of the things that's interesting is how that changes over time. So for private domestic adoption, to huge increase, when you compare families that adopted in that timeframe, then families that adopted from 1991 to 2010. Were you know, it was just over half of those families 57%, you know, have contact with birth family, you know, compared to that 75% from those who had adopted earlier than that. And so, you know, very wide difference there. And for inter country adoption, one of the things that's really interesting is, it actually looks like it's about the same. I mean, it doesn't change much, they're both close to 11%, when you compare those two decades, for adoptions from foster care, also hasn't changed that much. They're both, you know, 43 to 44%. So not changing as much in terms of practices over time. I think the bigger the big takeaway there is that private domestic adoption, that's one of the ways that field has changed. And those of us who've worked in the field are not going to be surprised by that, you know, had we done this research 30 years ago, we would expect this to look really different. We would expect that the majority of our respondents for private domestic adoption, aren't maintaining a relationship with birth family, they're not in contact with birth family. And so, you know, I think we're seeing that that's changed. And that's one of the messages that I think we want to get out to the wider public about private domestic adoption, is that the norm is an ongoing relationship with birth family, that that is how those families most typically are formed. And that's what adoption looks like, after the placement has happened. Mix. One of the things we did with this was for those who said they don't have contact with birth family, we just asked those families a follow up question. And so if they said, No, we don't have contact with birth family. They were taken another way down our survey path and we asked them, no would you want contact with birth family? And this I think, is really interesting. For both private domestic and inter country adoption, the majority of adoptive parents would want contact with birth family, and that might that might surprise listeners who aren't as knowledgeable about the field and might assume that adoptive parents aren't interested in those relationships. And in fact, they are they would want that contact with birth family. And the more recent their adoption, the more true that is. So you know, for private domestic adoption was nearly 56% that have adopted in the in the last decade, who would want contact with birth family. And for inter country adoption, it was over 60% of those parents said that they would want contact with birth family if it was possible.

Right. And that is right for those of us in the field. And actually, I think for a lot of people, certainly for our audience, I don't think this would be that would be surprising, because it's certainly the way the field has moved. Now, Ryan, I want to talk about attachment that has that word itself has taken on such power in the adoptive parent world, we talk about it, we hear about it a lot, there's a great deal of fear. And honestly, I think sometimes there's a lot of self diagnosing and everything that goes on with attachment. But it is important, it is an important component of current and future mental health. So what did your survey find? What were the factors that correlated to attachment struggles? Are parents perception of attachment struggles?

Yeah, no, really appreciate this question. You're right, the field has focused a lot on attachment. And, and I would say rightly, so this is so important. And having attachment is a strong predictor of other outcomes. You know, one of the things we know about attachment is that it's a two way street. This is not is the kid attaching to the parents, but is the parent also attaching with the child. And so what we did this was, you know, aside from the majority of our report, where we're reflecting back descriptive statistics, this was much more in depth statistical analysis, where we looked at different factors that could be impactful of adoption. And we asked the question, you know, do these factors impact adoption, and then we looked at different cohorts of individuals who were adopted by their age at time of adoption, to see, you know, if there are differences, if these factors impacted those different age cohorts differently. So we set it up pretty ambitiously, because we wanted to see what our findings were the three different age cohorts we looked at were birth to one year of one to five years, and then six years and older. And this was a time of adoption. Yeah, that's aged time of adoption. Age at time of adoption was also one of the factors that we looked at as a whether or not it was a predictive factor. And we looked at Special Needs status for that we made it binary, we just said yes or no, that the child has a special need. And we looked at marital status, you know, is the parent married yes or no. And we looked at the number of kids in the home at time of adoption. And so we looked at those four predictive factors. And we looked at those for all three of those different age cohorts. I mentioned, for that youngest cohort birth to one year, all four ended up being predictive factors. So the younger a child is, the higher the attachment scores are having a special need, we had an inverse relationship for attachment. So it made attachment less likely, what I don't want your listeners to hear is that means it's not going to be likely for them. It just meant in comparison to those who don't have a special need. There's a statistically significant difference. So this is not predicting that children who are older, won't have a good attached relationship, or children who have a special need won't have an attached relationship. It's just saying that these are factors that impact adoption or impact attachment rather. And marital status was one of the more interesting ones where it was a predictive factor that being married was more likely to lead to an attached relationship for younger children. But for that middle cohort, that would that was not true, where you're not being married, had a slightly more likelihood leading towards attachment. And then there was no statistical significance for that older age cohort.

Let me pause you here. Did you ask exclusively married our partner? I mean, if a partner person was partnered, but not legally married, would they have checked the no box?

That was a that was a very, very small percentage of the respondents to our survey. So the majority of the parents were either married or single. And so that is how it was framed within this question on attachment. We actually use that and I should have started by this. When we're talking about attachment. We used a psychometric scale, something that was previously standardized to measure attachment. And then we looked at the other factors that were true for the parents. And that was that time of adoption. So the number of kids in the home is that fourth factor, that's also a predictive factor. So the more children in the home would lead to a lower attachment score on average, then, you know, so you You could think through that as a as an inverse relationship, as number of kids in the home goes up, attachment goes down, and then vice versa as the number of children in the home decreases, attachment increases. Okay. And and that's just showing that there's a statistically significant relationship for those factors. It's not saying those things are bad or negative or ruin attachment. You know, I think what we want to know is, how can we be preparing parents? And what are things that we should be thoughtful of, so that if we're pursuing an older child who has special needs, and there's a lot of kids in this home? We don't we don't know for in any one case, what that will look like for attachment. But we can say that, in general, there are predictive factors that would make us think getting to that that positive attached relationship status that we're aiming for, that might take more work there might need more therapeutic parenting, and focus on that relationship, then, you know, if those factors looks different,

yeah, good point. You guys have heard me say this before. And I will say it again, this show would not exist if we didn't have partners, who helped us put on the show who helped support us in putting on the show. And these are agencies who believe in our mission and the mission of providing expert based trauma informed resources for pre and post adoptive Foster and kinship families. One such partner is children's connection. They are an adoption agency providing services for domestic infant adoption, as well as embryo donation and adoption throughout the US. They have home study and post adoption support to families in Texas, a great organization, please check them out. What percentage of another statistic I have been looking for good evidence on and hoping you can provide? What percentage of adoptions in the US are transracial? Yeah,

we didn't ask that question. So we didn't ask it like that. What we're how we approach that was, we asked parents, if both of if it was either one parent, or if there were two parents, we asked for both parents, if they are a different race and the child they adopted, we asked them a number of questions about how they're incorporating elements of the child's race or ethnicity, into their parenting or into their household. And we also ask them questions about what their perceptions are in terms of their friends, and their extended families acceptance of the child's race and ethnicity, you know, what's their perception of the community's acceptance of that. And so we asked a whole series of questions, to better understand that. And, again, we limited this just to situations where the parents, both parents would be a different race than the child, we also limited to families that had adopted, you know, more than six months prior, and to families whose child was at least five years old. So we had a smaller response rate there, but still, by research standards, very large response we had, you know, over 500, who were responsive for private domestic adoption, over 1000 for inter country adoption, and almost 400, for adoption from foster care. And on the whole, they are doing, I think, a good job of seeking to incorporate elements of the child's you know, race or ethnicity, um, some of the questions just to give your listeners a sense of this, they're participating in racial or ethnic holidays, or events that reflect the child's race or ethnicity, they have friends who share the child's racial or ethnic or cultural background, they're reading books to the child about his or her racial, ethnic or cultural group or heritage. So on the whole, by all three types of adoption, adoptive parents are responding very well in these categories, there's still room for improvement. And they're, you know, so I don't want to look at this and say, you know, our work is finished here. But I would look at this and say, you know, parents are taking this seriously. They are on all of these questions, they are on the whole, they're looking to find ways where they can be, you know, participating in activities that are going to be impactful for their child. They also report that their friends and their extended family are fully accepting of the child's you know, race or ethnicity. They report that their community, you know, their schools and their neighborhoods are also accepting of the child's race or ethnicity. So, you know, on a scale of one to five, the mean score was, you know, well over four that believe that their community that their family, their extended family is accepting. So that's encouraging, but again, I don't think this means our work is done. I think it means we're identifying We're already identifying some activities that that we can be doing. And as we look at this, we can be using this as a way to educate future adoptive families, what are what has been effective? You know, from your family's experience, what might other families be choosing to do?

And this is an area that I would be very curious to see what you find out when you do your survey of adopted individuals. Yeah, I would, I think a comparison from the what the parents perceive and what the adopted person perceives. I would just be curious about that. No,

I think you're right. And we'll also be seeing a big age difference there. So that might be reflecting a different timeframe and adoption. Again, the majority of our respondents have adopted in the last five, certainly the last 10 years. Whereas if we're asking adult adoptees, they would have been placed, you know, for adoption a few decades ago. So I would anticipate that to be very different.

Yeah, it's a good point, because we hope that we have made progress in that area. Well, I'd like to end the the profiles and adoption survey covers many, many more fascinating things. But I want to end our time, with satisfaction, how satisfied with their decision to adopt our adoptive parents. Great question.

And I'm, I'm happy to end there. I will say for your listeners, if they're looking at this report, you know, I encourage them to look at how we break up many of the questions simply by type of adoption. So I'll encourage them to look there. In terms of satisfaction, the very large majority of adoptive parents find their role to be rewarding and satisfying. On their total satisfaction, again, on a scale of one to five, they're all all three by types of adoption are well over four for private domestic adoption, it's, you know, 4.66, for inter country adoption, it's, you know, 4.58, for adoption from foster care 4.2. To that, you know, with well over 1000 respondents in each of those categories. And so they they are, they're very satisfied, in hindsight, the adoptive parents say they would still have accepted their adoptive placements. So, you know, another way to frame that is, if they could do it all again, would they, you know, their answer was overwhelmingly Yes. And that's true for all all types of adoption. It was, it's very encouraging to see those responses. Of course, you know, there is a range, but even looking at the distribution in scores, your parents are responding very strongly that they are satisfied with adoption.

And for those of us who are not statisticians, when you said that you were giving the 4.69 4.6, what is that workout in percentage? Can you do that? Or am I asking you something that would require you to do mental math mental math really quick?

Yeah. So we, what we didn't do was, look at the percentage of those who selected five versus the percentage of those.

That's a zero to one. I mean, zero to five. Right.

So one would be, we asked them questions, like, for example, the first question we asked was, overall, I'm satisfied with the decision to adopt, you know, and they answered one to five, one was strongly disagree, five would be strongly agree. It's a one to five scale. Got it? Yeah. And so we asked that we asked them a series of questions, all related to satisfaction, and they are very much saying that they're strongly agreeing, and very overwhelmingly so. And then we we put in the report this, then the, the distribution scores as well, just so that folks can see that it's not it's not huge, you know, it's it's the scores are distributed, but it's not so wide. You know, in other words, the the majority of parents that aren't selecting five or selecting for, you know, the majority of parents are, are having a very good, they're reflecting back that their decision was one that they're satisfied with, that they're feeling good about.

Excellent. Yeah, I see that now. I was missing the one to five scale, and I thought you were giving me a statistical analysis. Yeah. Which that's yeah. And that also reflects what those of us in the field See, as well as that, you know, adoption, from a parent's standpoint is a great way to build your family.

That's right. Yes. And we know there are exceptions to that. And there's more work for the field to do. But on the whole that that is absolutely what we see in our day to day work. We hear it anecdotally all the time. And it's nice to see that reflected back with such a large response from adoptive parents here.

Yeah. And I I'm very excited to look forward very excited to see your, the results of and I realize these are future and that you've got to get this one. You know, you've got to get over to having done this first, but I look forward to your survey of adopted individuals as well as birth parents as well. Thank you. So much Ryan Hanlon with NCFA. We really appreciate your being with us today. This has been great. I absolutely am fascinated by what you find and I have absolutely no doubt that I will be quoting this survey for foster adoption for years to come. So I appreciate how much work went into it and thank you

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