Predictors of outcome for unrelated adoptive placements made during middle childhood
This paper reports on a follow-up to adolescence of two longitudinal prospective studies of children placed from public care with non-related adoptive families in the UK. Factors associated with outcome are presented for 99 children (one index child per adoptive family) who were between 5 and 11 years of age at placement. Information concerning the children's backgrounds and care histories was obtained shortly after placement (T1), from social workers. Adopters were interviewed at T1 and again at the end of the first year (T2). A further follow-up was conducted an average of six years after placement (T3).
Outcomes at T3 were classified as either disrupted, which was true for 23%, continuing and ‘positive’ (49%) or continuing but ‘difficult’ (28%). Bivariate analyses revealed a number of attributes, related to both the child and the adoptive parents, which were associated with differential outcomes. Logistic regression produced five predictors of placement disruption: age at placement, behavioural problems, preferential rejection, time in care and the child's degree of attachment to the new mother. Differences were found between ‘positive’ and ‘difficult’ outcomes in continuing placements as well as between continuing and disrupted placements. The analysis suggests that adoption should certainly be considered as an option for children over 5 years of age while recognizing the need for both preparation and post-placement support. Evidence of differential outcome in continuing placements provides support for efforts to reduce the number of placements and returns home that a child at risk experiences.