Report Shows Adoption Works Well
Special Report - November 29, 2010
Adoption has a vast array of benefits for children, their adoptive families and their birth mothersbenefits that far outweigh any negative outcomes, according to a new report co-released today by the Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI) at the Family Research Council and the North Carolina Family Policy Council. The 23-page report, “Adoption Works Well: A Synthesis of the Literature,” is written by Patrick Fagan, Ph.D., director of MARRI. It reviews and summarizes the bulk of research on adopted children and their families.
“Compared to even long-term fostering, adoption provides a greater sense of permanence and familial belonging, more emotional security, and a more lasting psychosocial foundation for life,” writes Dr. Fagan. The report notes that the best lifetime outcomes occur in children who are adopted during the first 12 months of life, although adoption at any stage tends to benefit children in the long term more than remaining in foster care or orphanages (in the case of overseas adoptions). Adoptive mothers play a key role in the healthy development of adoptive children, according to Dr. Fagan, who emphasizes that time with mom and sensitivity on her part are both essential to helping children adjust to their new family. The study also notes that consistent, yet flexible parenting on the part of adoptive families is important to the success of an adoption, along with a close support system.
Other key findings from the report include:
- Children who are adopted during their first year of life “have the same ability to form secure attachments as non-adopted children.” Early adoption also “facilitates language acquisition.”
- Married parents tend to adjust better to adoption than non-married parents.
- Birth mothers who choose adoption benefit as well, and are more likely to finish school, as well as less likely to live in poverty.
- Self esteem is lower in adoptive children than in children from intact married families, and adoptive children “may struggle with identity development, but they enjoy equally good psychological health.”
- Adopted children who are less developed at the time of adoption “tend to catch up to their age group in height, weight, and general health.”
- Adopted children “strongly outperform their non-adopted birth peers” in math, reading and general academics. And adopted boys perform better in reading than the general population.
- Adopted children who were abused prior to being adopted have a harder time adjusting socially and tend to achieve less in school than adopted children who were not abused or neglected.
On a negative note, the MARRI study found that adopted children are at greater risk of exhibiting non-aggressive anti-social behavior (such as stealing, serious rule violations, sale/possession of drugs) than non-adopted children. But adoptive children “are no more likely to display aggressive anti-social behavior” (such as violent behavior toward people or animals) than non-adoptive children, according the report. Previous histories of abuse or neglect influence whether adoptive children will display anti-social aggressive behaviors. However, Dr. Fagan notes that positive parenting by the adoptive parents, as well as the presence of an adoptive mother with a higher level of education and personal psychological health, tends to make it less likely a child will engage in aggressive behavior. “[Again] illustrating the importance of the adoptive mother’s own psychological capacitiesthe more easily she can access memories of her own childhood, and the more secure her own attachment capacity is, the less aggression these abused children will exhibit,” Fagan explains.
“Adoption is a remarkably beneficial act by generous people, who offer their time, attention, affection, and resources to give other people’s children a better chance in life,” Dr. Fagan concludes. “Though adoption is not without difficulty for some adoptive parents, when compared to what life offered their children initially, it makes an enormous positive difference in all dimensions of children’s lives, and also in the parents’ lives. For the overwhelming number of those who adopt and those who are adopted, it works very well.”
Anonymous for Life - FNC - Spring 2010
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