Methodology: A process and outcome evaluation was undertaken to determine whether or not married couples who adopt children through the foster care system and who participate in Adoptive Couples Retreat will improve marital communication and satisfaction. Qualitative and quantitative data were collected with pre-and post-retreat surveys. Qualitative data were analyzed through grounded theory using constant comparison, theoretical sampling, labeling, coding and theming. Couples were asked to complete surveys on a variety of topics including family demographics, goals for attending the weekend retreat, and the number of years it had been since they spent time alone with each other. Post-surveys included questions on their assessment of the retreat activities; future services couples were interested in; retreat experiences and perceived impact on the family and marriage; goals accomplished; logistics and facilities.
Findings: One hundred sixty four married adoptive couples attended five retreats. Couples had been married 3-50 years and 60% had been married for 11 or more years. Ages of retreat participants ranged from 25-76 years. Almost half of the couples were Caucasian (47%), 18% were interracial, 11% were African American, 10% were Hispanic, and 1% was American Indian. 46% of couples had biological and adopted children; 29% had only adopted children, and 24% had adopted and foster children.
Seventy-eight percent of couples reported improved communication after attending the retreat, 70% reported improved problem solving skills and 64% reported improved marital satisfaction. All participants would recommend the retreat to other adoptive couples and 72-92% of participants were interested in joining a support network in the future.
Implications: In pursuit of evidence-based interventions to improve marital stability and family functioning in adoptive families, this model shows promise in becoming a effective intervention. Adoption practitioners frequently focus on the needs of the child in the adoption placement and the ongoing ability of the adoptive parents to meet the child's needs. Follow-up and longitudinal research is needed to assess the long-term effects of this type of marital training and support. This program highlights the need for adoption practitioners to focus on the needs of the couple, as a foundation for providing long-term, stable and healthy families for adopted children.