A disproportionate number of families endure wellbeing difficulties, including child behavior problems, poor family functioning, and diminished caregiver commitment. Racial and socioeconomic disparities endemic to the child welfare system potentially inhibit positive adjustment for families who adopt or assume guardianship of foster children from diverse backgrounds. More research is needed to support adoption/guardianship families, especially those families most at risk for poor wellbeing outcomes.
Methods: This symposium will report data from two types of sources of information from adoptive parents and guardians: two studies that used in-depth interviews and two that relied on surveys with adoptive parents and guardians.
The first study asked parents and guardians (n=32) about their motivations for adopting or assuming guardianship. Using grounded theory, a systematic approach was used to develop a broad conceptual theory that explains how caregiver motivations may relate to struggles after finalization and service needs of adoptive and guardianship families.
The second study examined the service needs and barriers for adoptive or guardianship families (n=809). Participants were asked to describe the services and supports they felt were most important and most needed for families as well as identify barriers to these services as supports. Responses were double-coded, reviewed and analyzed using an inductive approach to qualitative content analysis.
The third study used grounded theory to understand, from the adoptive parent or guardianâ€™s perspective, what issues they were facing when they sought services, and what was effective in meeting those needs.
The final paper uses data from surveys with adoptive parents and guardians in four states (n=2750) to understand how often children or youth spent two weeks or longer in one of the following settings after adoption or guardianship: residential or hospital setting, juvenile justice setting, homeless or having run away from home (informal discontinuity). Next, logistic regression was used to predict the relationship between child-and family-level characteristics and informal PPD.
Conclusion: Families formed through adoption or guardianship are a growing number of families that have or had contact with the child welfare system. Together these studies help us understand the struggles families face and suggestions for how to improve services.