A comprehensive assessment of self-report experiences of adoptive parents of special needs children in Florida

Arlene Kaplan Brown, Florida International University


Adoption of special needs children is now seen as a life long event whereby the adoptive child and family have unique needs. The need for postplacement resources throughout the life cycle of the adoption process is evident. This exploratory-descriptive research employed a random stratified cross-sectional design. The purpose of the study was to describe, identify, examine, and assess the relative influence of identified empirically and conceptually relevant variables of self-report experiences of adoptive parents of special needs children. Primary areas of exploration included: (1) adoptive children and families' characteristics, (2) postplacement service needs, utilization and satisfaction, and (3) adoptive parents' perceptions of their adoption experiences. A proportionate stratified random mail survey was used to obtain 474 families who had adopted special needs children from the 15 geographic districts which make up the state adoption social service agency in Florida. A 144-item survey questionnaire was used to collect basic information on demographic data, service provision, and adoption experiences. Four research questions were analyzed to test the effect the predictor variables had on willingness to adopt another special needs child, successful adoption, satisfying experience, and realism about problems. All four research questions revealed that the full model and the child's antecedent and the adoptive parents' intervening variable blocks were significant in explaining the variance in the dependent variables. The child's intervening variables alone were only significant in explaining the variance for one of the dependent variables. The results of the statistical analysis on the fifth research question and the three hypotheses determined that (1) only one postplacement service, crisis intervention, had a statistically significant impact on the adoptive parents' perceived level of satisfaction with the adoption experience; (2) adoptive parents who rate their adoption as successful are more likely to express a desire to adopt another special needs child; (3) the more adequate information on the child the adoptive parents perceived that they had prior to placement, the more they perceived they were realistic about the problems they would encounter; and (4) six specific postplacement services were found to be significant in predicting successful adoptions--crisis intervention, outpatient drug/alcohol treatment, maintenance subsidy, physical therapy, special medical equipment, and family counseling. Implications for the social work field and future research are discussed.

Subject Area

Social work|Welfare|Demographics|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Brown, Arlene Kaplan, "A comprehensive assessment of self-report experiences of adoptive parents of special needs children in Florida" (1996). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI9700482.