The Effects of Adoption Openness and Type on the Mental Health, Delinquency, and Family Relationships of Adopted Youth

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Sociological Spectrum






Analyzing the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents, this study examines the impact of open adoption, demographics, and other factors on adopted children’s mental health, delinquent behavior, and family relationships. Specifically, we compare findings for youth in private and public (i.e., foster care) adoptions and identify key similarities and differences between predictors of children’s well-being across these two types of adoption. We find that youth in open foster care adoptions are more likely to receive an attachment disorder diagnosis than those in closed foster care adoptions but are also more likely to have family relationships characterized by trust and adoptive parents’ willingness to recommend adoption to others. Further, we find children in both public and private adoptions who are older at placement are more likely to have posttraumatic stress disorder diagnoses. For children in private adoptions, no statistically significant predictors affected youths’ delinquency outcomes or family relationships, with the exception of parents of private adoptees in households characterized by lower levels of poverty indicating they would be more likely to recommend adoption to others. The implications of the key findings are discussed with regard to service provision for multiple types of adoptive families.