Report urges more support for adoptive families in US

By David Crary
Associated Press / October 21, 2010

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NEW YORK — Bluntly acknowledging the challenges many adoptive families face, a coalition of child welfare and adoption groups is appealing for a national reappraisal of how best to provide sustained, effective support and keep grim outcomes to a minimum.

A large majority of adoptions go well, but a few end disastrously, and some entail wrenching emotional and financial struggles for adoptive families as they take in children from US foster homes and overseas orphanages.

In a report being released today, endorsed by many leading players in the adoption community, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute said too many families are not receiving essential services while raising children who previously had been abused, neglected, or institutionalized.

“The good news is that most of them, and their families, are doing just fine,’’ said the institute’s executive director, Adam Pertman. “The bad news is that the ones who need help too often aren’t getting it.’’

The report, “Keeping The Promise,’’ links the current challenges to the changing face of adoption over the past two decades.

Adoption of relinquished infants has become far rarer, now numbering an estimated 14,000 a year, while adoptions out of foster care — involving many children who suffered abuse or neglect — have soared from about 31,000 in 1997 to more than 57,000 last year.

There also were 12,753 adoptions of foreign children last year, many of them with special medical or psychological needs.

“Given the realities of the types of adoptions occurring today . . . the majority of children come to their new families from backgrounds that can lead to elevated risks for developmental, health, emotional, and/or behavioral issues,’’ the report said.

The Donaldson Institute described its new report as the most comprehensive on postadoption services.

Organizations endorsing it include the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, and the National Council for Adoption.

Among the report’s recommendations: Convene a national task force to propose improvements in postadoption policy, conduct more research to assess effective support practices, and dedicate federal funding for postadoption services.