Supporting families as they adopt children with special needs

Laurie Kramer, Doris Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The stability of adoptions involving children with special needs is likely to be inhanced when families percieve that they are receiving support. The purpose of this study was to identify the types of formal and informal supports that are used and desired by families who are parenting children with special medical, behavioral, or developmental needs. An overarching goal was to provide recommendations for addressing parents' unmet needs. Forty parents, who were in the process of adopting at least one child identified as having a special need, completed a comprehensive questionnaire about their use and preferences for support. Two parents also participated in in-depth interviews. Although adoption and child welfare agencies have traditionally assumed responsibility for meeting the needs of pro-adoptive families, the current results indicated that parents rely on a variety of resources that include, but are not restricted to, the adoption agency. Informal, agency-linked resources, such as access to family resource support specialists and experienced "master" adoptive parents, appear to be relatively untapped sources of help for many pre-adoptive families. Results are discussed in terms of the desirability of providing pre-adoptive families with more integrated support systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)423-432
Number of pages10
JournalFamily Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • Adoption
  • Child welfare
  • Foster care
  • Special needs children
  • Support nerworks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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