A 2007 report by the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services may put to rest many of the arguments or concerns about adoption’s impact on children growing up adopted.
The report (“Adoption USA”) was compiled from data from the 2007 National Survey of Adoptive Parents – a federal survey of 2,000 families that adopted children from foster care, internationally or through private domestic adoption.
The report found that 85 percent of adopted children are in excellent or very good health, and that adopted children are more likely to have health insurance than children in the general population. Adopted children also were less likely to live in households below the poverty threshold.
The report also found that adopted children benefit in other ways than children in the general population:
- Adopted children were more likely to be read to every day as a young child (68 percent of adopted children vs. 48 percent of children in the general population).
- Adopted children were more likely to be sung or told stories to every day as a young child (73 percent of adopted children vs. 59 percent of children in the general population).
- Adopted children are more likely to participate in extracurricular activities as school-age children (85 percent of adopted children vs. 81 percent of children in the general population).
- More than half of adopted children were reported to have excellent or very good performance in reading, language arts and math.
- With regards to the type of adoption, the report found that children are adopted nearly equally from the three types of adoption: 37 percent were adopted from foster care, 38 percent through a private domestic adoption and 25 percent were adopted internationally.
Findings also included statistics regarding the openness of adoption, showing a strong trend supporting notions that adoptive families are increasingly becoming more comfortable with more open adoptions. Sixty-seven percent of respondents reported having a pre-adoption agreement regarding openness (such as visits or phone calls with the birth family) and 68 percent of adoptive families reported post-adoption contact with the birth family (such as an exchange of letters, emails or visits after the adoptive placement). Furthermore, the study found that nearly all – 97 percent – of adopted children ages 5 and older know they were adopted.
A 2012 study from the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute titled “Openness in Adoption” reports that only 5 percent of today’s adoptions are closed; the remaining 95 percent are open or semi-open adoptions. The study also cites benefits for adopted children who have continued contact with and access to their birth parents after they are adopted.
Contact with birth families allows adopted children to maintain access to medical, genealogical and family histories. Youth in open adoptions also have a better understanding of the meaning of adoption and more active communication about adoption with their adoptive parents.
Adopted teens who had open and semi-open adoptions described a range of benefits including:
- coming to terms with the reasons for their adoption
- having physical touchstones to identify where personal traits came from
- having information that aided in identity formation
- having positive feelings toward their birth mother
- appreciating an additional supportive adult relationship
The happiness of adopted children can be linked to the healthy development of their identity. Children growing up adopted who feel secure in their relationship with their adoptive family and can also come to terms with their adoption/birth parents are able to lead happy, healthy and well-adjusted lives.
Search these links for full versions of the cited studies:
“Adoption USA” – http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/09/NSAP/chartbook/
“Openness in Adoption” – http://www.adoptioninstitute.org/research/2012_03_openness.php