WED July 11, 2018 WED July 11, 2018
10:30 am 10:30 am
Cartier I Cartier I

Maria Barbosa-Ducharne

Associate Professor, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto

Sylvie Marinho

Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences, University of Porto

Nancy Rolock

Associate Professor, Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Kevin R. White

Associate Professor, School of Social Work, East Carolina University

Julie Selwyn

Professor of Child and Family Social Work, University of Bristol

Jesús Palacios

Jesús Palacios

Professor, Department of Developmental Psychology, University of Sevilla

Jesús Jiménez-Morago

Associate Professor, Department of Developmental and Educational Psychology, University of Seville

Carmen Paniagua

Graduate student in psychology, University of Seville

David Brodzinsky

David Brodzinsky

Emeritus Professor, Developmental and Clinical Psychology, Rutgers University

Symposium: Reducing the risks of adoption breakdown. Lessons from empirical research

Risk and Protection Factors in Preadoption Breakdown in Portugal

Background and purpose: Child’s older age at placement is generally agreed to be the greatest risk factor for adoption breakdown. More research is needed about other correlates of disruption beyond children’s age. This study aimed at comparing intact and disrupted placements and identifying adoption disruption risk and protection factors. The results will be useful when considering how to prevent adoption disruption.

Method: This study used a matched design involving a casefile analysis of 71 disrupted and 71 intact Portuguese pre-adoptive placements, matched by age at placement and with similar distribution according to gender. Child’s average age at placement was of almost 8 years, allowing to globally consider the study’s sample as late-placement cases.
Results: Disrupted and intact cases were similar in some aspects but presented differences in relation to the to-be-adopted child (variables related to the birth family, child’s behaviour and readiness to adoption), the adopters (variables related to parenting, acknowledgement of adoption specificities and social network) professional practices (variables related to completeness of information about the child and the adopters, adopters’ preparation for adoption, staff continuity). Using binary logistic regression analysis, a predictive model combining variables of the to-be-adopted child, the adopters and the caseworkers’ practices was performed. This model explained 54% of the variance and predicted correctly the group membership for 80.8% cases.

Conclusions: Age at placement alone is not enough to understand the circumstances leading to breakdown. Other risk factors related to the child, the adopters and the professional practices help to gain a more complete understanding of adoption disruption. Accurate and complete assessment of adopters’ suitability, pre-placement preparation of both the child and the adopters, as well as an effective post-placement follow-up, are needed in order to prevent placement disruption.

Understanding characteristics of families post-adoption: A study from one U. S. State

Background and Purpose: The needs of children, youth and families after adoption from foster care is a growing area of interest. Research has found that the vast majority (about 85%) of families do not experience a reentry into foster care after adoption. However, for the approximately 15% who do, it is often a difficult experience for the entire family, something that needs to be better understood. Moreover, previous research indicates that many adoptive families experience high needs related to children’s experiences of maltreatment and trauma, even if the adoptive placements remain stable. With data from one US state, this study examines, what are the family characteristics associated with families who are in contact with a long-standing post-adoption service provider? Do those same characteristics predict which children are likely to experience post-adoption instability?

Methods: This study used data obtained from a state-wide child welfare agency for all children adopted from foster care between 2007 and 2017 (N=10,015), linked to private service provider data on all families who came into contact with the agency between Oct., 2016 and Oct., 2017 (n=115). Survival analysis was used to examine the hazard of children experiencing three different outcomes, after controlling for eight covariates: (1) contact with a service provider for post-adoption services, (2) reentry into foster care after adoption, and (3) premature ending of an adoption subsidy.

Results: Descriptive analyses showed that within one year, 64 children were in contact with the post-adoption service provider. Data shows that 4% of children experienced a return to care, and an additional 5% had a premature subsidy ending. Multivariate survival analyses indicated that, controlling for other characteristics, children adopted at the age of three or older were 3.2 times more likely to be in contact with the service provider, 5.1 times more likely to reenter foster care after adoption finalization, yet were less likely (HR=0.56) to have their subsidy end prematurely, than younger children. Hazards for reentry increased with each additional year in age of the parent at the time of adoption (HR=1.02), and were higher for those with three or more placement moves while in foster care (HR=1.67).

Conclusions: This study provides a unique look at post-adoption instability. Consistent with previous literature, the results show that a small percentage of children reenter foster care after adoption. Further, results suggested that the three case outcomes may be associated with different types of children, and that children who face the highest risk for foster care reentry are those who are older, diagnosed with a disability, non-African-American, have a history of multiple placement moves, and who have older caregivers. Post-adoption services should be targeted at those children and families who are most at-risk for negative outcomes.

Sibling relationships in adoptive families who had disrupted or families on the edge of disruption.

At any given time, around 70,000 children in England and 6,000 children in Wales are looked after by local. Adoption as an intervention for maltreated children in care has been promoted by governments in England and Wales with about 6% of the care population placed for adoption. However, at the time the study began, there was debate about the prevalence of adoption disruption, with various commentators citing rates ranging from 5% to 50%. Social workers were also asking for information on outcomes to help them make important decisions about the most appropriate placement for children who were unable to return safely to their birth parents. Adoptive family life can help foster developmental recovery and many adopted children do make significant progress. However, for some families, the adoption journey can be fraught with difficulty. Therefore, the four specific objectives of the study were: 1. To establish the rate of adoption disruption post-order 2. To investigate the factors associated with disruption. 3. To explore the experiences of adopters, children, and social workers. 4. To provide recommendations on how disruptions might be prevented. Inter-country adoptions and step-parent adoptions were excluded. In this study, disruption refers to a legally adopted child who left their adoptive home prematurely (under the age of 18 years). The child may have returned to care, be living with their birth family, independently, or in some other arrangement. Drawing on administrative data in England and Wales on over 40,000 adoptions, the rate of adoption disruption was calculated at 3.2% over an 11-12 year period. This presentation will focus on the interview study and consider whether sibling relationships had influenced the outcome of adoptive placements that had disrupted or were in crisis. Siblings were defined as any child whom the adopted child grew up with in the adoptive home.

Surveys were sent by 13 local authorities to adopters who had adopted a child from care between 1st April 2002 and 31st March 2004. The same survey was posted on an adopter’s website (Adoption UK). From the survey returns 45 parents who had experienced a disruption and 45 parents who described their families as in crisis were interviewed using an investigator based method. Interviews lasted on average 3 hours, material was transcribed and entered into SPSS and NviVo for analysis. A framework approach to analysis was applied to the qualitative data.

The majority (91%) of the 90 adopted children had been brought up with siblings but only 18 parents described normative sibling relationships. Although only eight of the disruptions were directly attributed by parents to conflictual sibling relationships, poor sibling relationships were a major source of parental stress. Parents described other children in the family being physically attacked, sexually abused, and emotionally abused by the adopted child.

Duration of adoptive placements ending in breakdown and the role of age at placement

Purpose. In the extant research into adoption breakdown, little research has been devoted to study the duration of adoptions from placement of the child until the breakdown of the life together in the adoptive family. The first goal of this presentation is the analysis of the duration of adoptive placements ending in breakdown and the factors associated with it. Given the prominent role played by age at placement in the breakdown experience, a second goal will be the analysis of the importance of this variable in the sample under study.

Method. All known cases of adoption breakdown during a whole decade in Andalusia, a Spanish region, were studied. Pre-adoption and formalized adoptions, domestic and intercountry adoptions were included. Data were analyzed using survival analysis, Cox regression, chi-square and rate ratio analyses. Results. The duration of adoptive placements ending in breakdown, significantly shorter in pre-legalized adoptions and in intercountry adoptions, is associated with a configuration of characteristics in the child, the adoptive parents and adoptive family life, and professional intervention. The circumstances in which the breakdown takes place differ according to the stage of the adoption process (pre- and post-legalized adoptions). Among child related factors, age at placement is of special relevance for the breakdown experience and the results confirm its importance in the studied sample.

Conclusions. Alghouth placements involving older children last less and break down more frequently, they are not condemned to failure. In fact, most of the late placements remain intact and do not break down, although they need to be better supported with protective factors compensating the risks. Implications from the study for the prevention of breakdown will be discussed. Prof. David Brodzinsky will discuss this and all the previous presentations in the symposium.