African American adoptions: an exploratory study of post-adoption outcomes among African American adoptive families who have adopted children from African American adoption agencies

Smith-McKeever, Thelma Chedgzsey
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The parents of 83 African American special-needs children who adopted through two private African American adoption agencies in California were surveyed regarding their post-adoption adjustment, satisfaction with their adoptions, parenting stress and children’s behavior. Parenting stress levels were measured using the Parenting Stress Inventory (Abidin, 1986) and child’s behavior was measured using the Child Behavior Checklist (Achenbach & Edelbrock, 1983). Comparisons were made of outcomes between single and two-parent adoptive families and infant and older child adoptive families. The sample was comprised of 24 single-parent and 58 two-parent x adoptive families. No significant differences were found in outcomes for younger child adopters (36 months or less at the time of adoption) versus those who adopted older children (37 months or more at the time of adoption) child adopters. Though children who were adopted before the age of three had lower CBCL total problem, internalizing and externalizing scores when compared to children who were adopted after the age of three, the parents of children who were adopted before the age of three expressed less overall satisfaction with their adoptions than did the parents of children adopted after the age of three. Children of single adoptive parents had significantly higher (p = .020) CBCL externalizing scores than did children in two-parent families. However, they were not more likely to have externalizing scores in the clinical range. No other significant differences in outcomes among single and two-parent adoptive families were found. Results also indicated that, though the differences were not statistically significant, single adoptive parents had lower Parenting Stress Inventory total scores than did married adoptive parents. This sample of African American adoptive families was unique in that they very much mirrored the demographic profile of White private agency adopters. As with White private agency adopters, the African American adoptive parents in the sample were highly educated, with 95% of mothers and 86.6% of fathers having graduated from college. They tended to work in full-time professional occupations, earned high yearly gross incomes (mean = $67,124) and were most likely (42.7%) to cite infertility as their primary motivation to adopt. While the sample had similar demographic backgrounds to White private agency adopters, they differed in that the African American adoptive families in this sample were most likely to adopt children who were older (mean age at adoption = 22.16 months for sample vs. 1 month for Whites) and in child welfare custody (62.2%).