Reports: Need High, Spending Low When It Comes to Adoption Services

Much of the demand for help by parents who adopt from foster care comes years after the point of adoption, according to the Donaldson Adoption Institute (DAI), which released two reports today making the case for an increased investment in pre- and post-adoption services.

The first report explains the need for Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP) services, and the second describes the relatively low investment most states are making in them.

Most foster youth are under the age of six when they are adopted. But 57 percent of those children receive mental health services as teenagers, according to Donaldson’s survey of adoptive parents.

Donaldson cites an Ohio study that found 9.5 percent of children adopted from care had re-entered the system, and 2.2 percent of the foster care adoptions in the state had dissolved. Another study cited by Donaldson found that 34 percent of adoptees who re-entered care saw their adoptions dissolved, and that about two-thirds of that 34 percent were adopted by someone else. [Proposed federal legislation would require states to being tracking the number of failed adoptions each year.]

For the adoptees who end up back in foster care, Donaldson said, the outcomes are grim. They are three-and-a-half times more likely to end up in group homes, and they are also three-and-a-half times more likely to emancipate than other foster youths.

Just 16 of the 45 states who responded to DAI questions reported spending more than $1 million on ASAP services. The total spending amount reported by all 45 states was $50.6 million. Nearly a quarter of that ($11.2 million) is spent by the State of Illinois, which operates an adoption support hotline that connects with an array of private contract providers around the state.

Click here to read the report on need, and click here to read the report on state spending. The DAI reports were funded by the Freddie Mac Foundation and the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

John Kelly is the editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.

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John Kelly
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John Kelly is editor-in-chief of The Chronicle of Social Change.


  1. The above cases are horrendous for these children and for society as a whole. However, all adoptive parents are not in this for the money. I have two adopted sons and I am struggling with the effects of RAD and ADHD and anxiety disorders that presented themselves post adoption. We need the mental health services identified in these studies and I NEED parental education to help my sons and to deal with the effects of early childhood trauma

  2. This focus on dissolutions (legal termination of adoptive parent’s rights), however, what about the children that go into someone else’s care following the adoption through other avenues distinct from dissolution. Unfortunately, very little attention has been paid to the many children who are a product of the foster care system and who return to family court through its revolving doors after achieving so-called “permanency” through adoption. Consider these two cases of the Children’s Law Center of New York.

    D.M.H. had lived with her adoptive mother since the age of six, and was officially adopted when she was nine years old. D.M.H. complained that she struggled to obtain basic necessities, including food and sanitary napkins, and frequently turned to friends and teachers for assistance when she was living with her adoptive mother. D.M.H. developed a mentoring relationship with a teacher in her school who exposed her to various cultural activities and programs and cared for her for months at a time when the adoptive mother travelled. When the adoptive mother failed to return from one trip, D.M.H.’s teacher allowed her to stay permanently in her home and ultimately filed for guardianship of her. While D.M.H. was staying with the petitioner, the adoptive mother continued to collect the adoption subsidy, yet provided little support for D.M.H.’s care, absent a few payments. By order of the court, an investigation was conducted and submitted by N.Y.C. Children’s Services. The one paragraph report stated that the child protective specialist had made contact with the adoptive mother who confirmed that she had been residing in North Carolina for one year. It appeared that no further inquiry was made on the circumstances under which the adoptive mother left fifteen year old D.M.H. in New York. Instead, the report simply concluded, “None of the parties are currently residing in Bronx County.”

    A.M.H. had consistent contact with her biological mother following her placement into foster care and adoption by her non-kinship foster parent. In addition, all of her biological siblings who ranged in ages from fifteen to twenty-two years old, and had been adopted by other families, informally visited with their mother or had left their adoptive placements and moved back into their mother’s home. A.M.H.’s eighteen years old biological sister C.M.H., who had also been adopted by the same adoptive mother, moved in with her biological mother after she was put out when she accused the adoptive mother’s boyfriend of inappropriate sexual behavior. The adoptive mother continued to collect the adoption subsidy, but provided C.M.H. with no support. A.M.H. reported that she was constantly berated and told by her adoptive mother, “I can’t wait until I wash my hands of you. I can’t wait until I’m done.” In June 2011, after thirteen year old A.M.H. got into a fight in school, her adoptive mother (who had been her caretaker for seven years) gave her a metro card for the subway, made her pack her belongings in a garbage bag, sent her to her biological mother for the summer, and arranged for the maternal great aunt to file for guardianship.

    Both adoptive parents continue to receive the adoption subsidy and will until the the children reach the age of 21.

    For further information about Broken Adoptions see

    • my husband an I love the children we want to foster and if possible adopt but were denied because of my traumatic childhood an Iam onmed for insomnia an dpression but i raised 2 of my own kids and both of them are ‘normal’ and got get jobs.Ive cared for to many kids to number an No problems occurred.We have had these kids before an 1 homestudy an oppinnions of those whom doent know us-wont even reconcider us-and weve spent $4000. just to try to make home more child safety.We love these kids an want them for loving an caring not money matters.Gods Blessings to all adoptees and foster care givers whom wants the kids even with out walfare help.

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