Adoption: Changing the Face of the Family Unit
Sun, April 11, 2021

Adoption: Changing the Face of the Family Unit

Having children is the ideal form of creating a family / Photo Credit: Shutterstock


A family will never be complete without children. Whether biologically produced or not, children are the legacy of their parents. They will carry similar traits and behavior and most often the family name, which is one of the main reasons why having children (especially males in the not-so-distant past) is most important for those who would want to keep the lineage going from one generation to another. 

Today, the racial and ethnic composition of the adopted population of children has drastically changed in the span of one generation. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that the proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a different race or ethnicity rose by almost 50% from 1999 to 2011. More than this, the study discovered that the proportion of adoptees with Asian backgrounds tripled in the same period. On the other hand, a fraction of adopted students who are of African-American descent have fallen. What has remained throughout the years is the usual profile of adoptive parents: white, older, well-educated, and more affluent. The shift in adoptive situations in the United States may be attributed to changes in pregnancy birth rates or capabilities of the family to raise children, whether married or unmarried.


A study established that the adopted children have special care needs compared to the general population of children / Photo Credit: Shutterstock


By the Numbers: Adopted Children, Parents, and Households

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation presented the results of a study done by the National Social Assistance Program (NSAP) on adoption in the United States. They showed that males represent more than half or 57% of children in foster care but with adoptions spread equally among girls and boys. Upon finalization of the adoption process, 40% of children have an average age of nine years and younger, while it’s 56% for those five years and below. The nature and state of the adoption process are such that children are promptly given their new homes when authorities determine that reuniting with their parents will not happen anytime soon.

In terms of the race of kids adopted from foster care, studies found that the children adopted are less likely to be white even though white children represent 56% of the general child population. In fact, only 37% of white children in foster care are adopted. Among the most adopted children in foster homes are black children, who make up only 14% of the US population. Moreover, the NSAP revealed that more than half or 54% of children adopted from foster care have special care needs versus the general population of children. These needs range from health conditions such as asthma and even psychological and behavioral conditions, with the reasons tracing back to why the child was put up for adoption in the first place.


Looking More Closely: Motivations and Effects on Kids

Children are adopted for different reasons. As presented by the NSAP data, the most common factor driving people to adopt a child is to provide them with a permanent home, at 86%. Meanwhile, 61% of parents said the reason they adopted a child is to expand the family unit, 39% are due to infertility, 24% wanted to provide a sibling for their own child, and 11% also adopted the foster child’s siblings. The study also showed that whatever the motivation of their adopting family, most children from foster care said they were satisfied with the adoption. 

When a child is adopted, this child is given a permanent home and family, a sense of belonging and security, as well as a sense of identity. Three out of four of all children adopted from foster care have a relationship with their adoptive parents that is warm and close. These families are 90% more likely to adopt again. An Australian parenting website, Raising Children, explained that adoption can lead to better developmental outcomes and emotional well-being for children. 


An adopted child can now experience and rightfully just have the primary needs a child may have / Photo Credit: Shutterstock


As an adoptive parent, extra care needs to be taken. These parents need to work harder to develop relationships with the adopted child. “Being a parent and raising a child is more important than the way you became a parent,” said Raising Children. This situation is very different from that of the usual parent-and-child relationship. Among a few tips to remember in taking care of the adopted child is to reassure the child of continuous love and support. Be patient with the child’s emotions. Listen to the child, and answer questions in an age-appropriate manner. Take time to learn about the adopted child’s origin, especially if they are from a different country. Inform the child about adoption as early as can be discussed to avoid surprises at an older age.

The face of adoption is likely to continue to change in the passing years. The countries that adopt frequently are undergoing changes. Some have looser requirements and policies now, for instance, China and its once-absolute “One-Child Policy” or Russia banning foreign adoptions from external countries in the past.

As adoption fulfills parental ambitions and gives a home to abandoned children, it opens up the home to a more global society, increasing ethnic diversity in the country, and broadening what it means to be a family.