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Survey: Adopted Kids Fare Well

Author: The Search Institute is a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota, specializing in research and resource development related to children, youth, and families.
Reprinted From: Adoptive Families America (AFA)
Date Posted: 6/94

On June 24, 1994 at the Adoptive Families America (AFA) National Conference, the Search Institute released the results of a four-year survey of over 700 adoptive families. The survey found that most teenagers who were adopted as infants "show no signs that adoption had a negative effect on their identity development, mental health, or well-being." Transracially adopted children in the survey fared as well as, if not better than, same-race adopted children in the measured categories of well-being. However, the researchers caution that the results of this survey may not hold true for children who were not adopted as infants.

The Search Institute is a nonprofit organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota, specializing in research and resource development related to children, youth, and families. The survey included 715 families that adopted infants between
1974 and 1980 through public and private adoption agencies in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. In each family, questionnaires were completed by the parents, the adopted child (now a teenager), and any other teenage child (adopted or non-adopted) present in the home. Results of the survey should be interpreted cautiously for the following reasons: sample size was limited; only four states were surveyed; the sample of children adopted transracially was primarily Asian; the survey excluded children adopted after infancy, as well as adopted children in middle childhood and in early adulthood; and all measures were self-reported by family members.
The Search Institute identified several factors associated with the mental health and well-being of adopted children in the survey, including the following:

* Strong parent-child attachment;
* Shared values, worldviews, and perspectives between parent and child;
* Use of effective parenting styles;
* Positive, affirming approaches to adoption-specific issues;
* Acceptance of adoption as a fact of life without dwelling on it; and
* Successful management by parents of factors that can threaten the well-being of adopted youth, including unresolved feelings of loss, feeling stigmatized about being adopted, and lack of support for adoption from family and friends (all of which were rare in the adoptive families surveyed).

Dr. Peter L. Benson, president of the Search Institute, summarized, "In the families that are thriving adoption is a fact of life that is accepted and affirmed, but not dwelt upon. Quiet, open communication about adoption seems to be the key."

The results of the survey are reported in "Growing Up Adopted: A Portrait of Adolescents and Their Parents," available from the Search Institute. To order, or for more information, call the Institute at (800) 888-7828.

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