Abstract: (see Poster Gallery) Correlates of Child and Family Well-Being Among Adoptive Families in North Dakota (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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SSWR 2023 Poster Gallery: as a registered in-person and virtual attendee, you have access to the virtual Poster Gallery which includes only the posters that elected to present virtually. The rest of the posters are presented in-person in the Poster/Exhibit Hall located in Phoenix A/B, 3rd floor. The access to the Poster Gallery will be available via the virtual conference platform the week of January 9. You will receive an email with instructions how to access the virtual conference platform.

18P (see Poster Gallery) Correlates of Child and Family Well-Being Among Adoptive Families in North Dakota

Thursday, January 12, 2023
Phoenix C, 3rd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Yi-Ping Hsieh, PhD, Associate Professor, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Isaac Karikari, PhD, Assistant Professor, University of North Dakota, Grand Forks, ND
Background and Purpose: It is important to identify the needs and strengths of adoptive and guardianship families who may be facing challenges or at risk for discontinuity. We aimed to identify the strengths, risks, and needs of families post permanency and prioritize early outreach and family services/supports and intervention to adoptive/guardianship families in North Dakota to reduce familial stress and improve child and family wellbeing. The research questions are: How might the adoption/guardianship impact caregiver and child wellbeing? What were the adoption experiences and child’s and caregiver’s strengths they perceived? Are there any differences between kinship and non-kinship adoption on caregivers’ strains and family and child wellbeing? What were caregivers’ attitudes and actions about contacting birth parents and siblings and the supports they had/needed? What are the most important services and supports for adoptive families? What are the most needed but hard to get or unavailable services for these adoptive families and the biggest barriers?

Methods: Caregivers in adoptive or guardianship families in North Dakota were recruited through the joint efforts of North Dakota Post Adopt Network and North Dakota Department of Human Services in the fall 2020. Total 847 caregivers (mean age= 39.97) participated in the study and completed the online survey. Most households (92%) had two adult caregivers living at home. Their identified adoptive children were white (45%), American Indians/Alaska Native (22%), and Black (21%) (mean age=11.66). The North Dakota Permanency Survey was used to investigate child and family wellbeing, adoption/guardianship experiences, contacts with birth parents and siblings, caregiving commitment, and community services. Descriptive statistics, correlation, anova, t-test, and regression were used to analyze the quantitative data, and the qualitative data (from open-ended questions) was thematically analyzed to identify patterns and themes.

Results: 59% caregivers have never thought about ending their adoption/guardianship, 75% would definitely adopt or assume guardianship of their child again if they knew then what they know now, 87% rated the overall impact of adoption on their family as positive. Caregivers of kindship adoption and those who didn’t adopt through a public child-welfare agency reported higher levels of strains than those of non-kinship adoption and those adopted through the public system. Children of non-kinship adoption had better social and emotional well-being overall than children of kinship adoption. 14% caregivers indicated that their child had a mental health issue that impacted the daily functioning of children, 8.3 % has intellectual disability, and 8% has food challenges. Caregiving commitment and risk of discontinuity were significantly related to caregiver strains. 16-17% caregivers thought contacts with child’s birth parents was not important at all, and 25-28% had no contact in past six months. The most important and needed services/supports were one-stop service, health and mental health service, social support, education support, financial support, legal services, and respite.

Conclusions and Implications: The outcomes of this study increase identification of post-adoption service needs, risks, and protective factors, and improve capacity to deliver data-driven and relevant prevention and intervention services to families post permanency, and eventually enhance child and family wellbeing.