Journal Issue: Adoption Volume 3 Number 1 Spring 1993
Prior to 1970, most children with special needs who could not live at home would not have been considered for adoption and would therefore have grown up in out-of-home placement. The term "special needs" refers to barriers—older age, developmental problem, physical disability, behavioral problem, need for sibling group placement—that delay or prevent timely placement in an adoptive home. On balance, adoption outcomes for children with special needs are distinctly positive. About 10% to 15% of adoptions of children 3 years of age or older end in disruption, that is, termination prior to legal finalization. In those adoptions that remain intact, about 75% of parents are well satisfied with their adoptive experience. Predictors of positive adoptive outcome include younger age of the child at the time of placement, the absence of behavioral problems, the provision of complete background information regarding the child, adoption by the child's foster parents, and the child's not having been sexually abused prior to placement. Although associations of socio-demographic factors to outcome are weak, lower-income families, families of modest educational attainment, and minority families have experienced particularly good outcomes. Financial adoption subsidies may be the single most important postadoptive service for special needs families.