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The Informed Parent

Outcomes From Nontraditional Adoptive Placements

by Peter W. Welty, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Mar. 27, 2006

Are there particular concerns when a child is adopted into a home which is culturally or racially different, or when the family is considered "nontraditional"? According to the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, studies show that children placed with single parents or with couples who do not expose them to abuse, neglect or late placement have equally good outcomes. Although some studies show that children who are placed later in life have more frequent problems. But, generally, all of the adopted children do well.

It is hypothesized that internationally adopting parents tend to be family-centered, racially tolerant, college educated, middle income, and bi-culturally oriented. Another study, looking at internationally adopted children who were placed before six months, showed that a higher degree of mother-child attachment predicted better social and cognitive development in middle childhood.

Specialized pediatric clinics have developed, focusing on the particular pre-and post-adoption needs of children from outside of the United States. Pre-placement pediatric review of the child's available medical records and other information is important. A thorough physical examination of the adopted child after arrival is essential. Good quality pre-adoptive care predicts better development. The child having age-appropriate language skills in his native language prior to adoption also predicts better outcomes.

Regarding adoption into gay and lesbian families, the adoptive parents often face stigma and rejection. Some states have enacted legislation denying homosexuals the right to adopt. In the past decade, however, many children from abroad have been placed with gay parents. When adopting domestically, gay parents are more likely to be successful in having older or special-need children placed with them. Research does not indicate that children raised by homosexual parents are at risk in any way, nor are they more likely to develop same-sex orientation than are children raised by heterosexual couples.

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