155954 Adoption outcomes for Black adoptees with disabilities in the child welfare system: Implications for long-term well-being

Monday, November 5, 2007: 2:45 PM

Elspeth M. Slayter, PhD, MSW , School of Social Work, Salem State University, Salem, MA
Sheron R. Adair, BSW , Massachusetts Child Welfare Institute, Salem State College School of Social Work, Salem, MA
Evenns Semerzier, BSW , Massachusetts Child Welfare Institute, Salem State College School of Social Work, Salem, MA
Since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, child welfare professionals have paid increasingly attention to children with disabilities in child protective service systems. Yet, while disparities in foster care and adoption outcomes among Black children are well documented, little is known about Black children with disabilities, an especially important topic given the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 vis-ŕ-vis time to termination of parental rights (TPR) and the potential for “hard to place” Black children with disabilities to remain in care longer, with long-term implications for health and quality of life. Guided by bell hook's concept of “double burden,” in this case, the combined impact of race and disability, this study examines adoption outcomes for Black children with disabilities. Using a cross-sectional design, data from the 2003 national Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System are used to examine 50,362 adoptees, 8.0% (N=4,016) of whom were Black children with disabilities. Compared to non-Black children with disabilities, the sample had lower rate of multiple disability (OR=0.5***) and slightly longer waiting times between TPR and adoption (1.7 years vs. 1.4 years, t=11.2***). Sample members were more likely to be adopted by single parents (OR=3.0***) and Black families (OR=54.2***) but were equally likely to be adopted by a family member. However, Families that adopted Black children with disabilities received lower average subsidies ($1,484 vs. $1,725, t=1.48***) as did a subset of Black adoptive families ($1,400 vs. $1,719, t= 1.8***). These findings suggest that the National Association of Black Social Workers guidelines for culturally-appropriate adoption may be taking hold, even with a "hard to place" population. However, policy and practice implications relate to the need for equality in subsidy disbursement and consideration of the potential need for additional social supports for single mothers parenting children with disabilities, given the challenges of parenting a child with a disability. Given the relatively low levels of children with multiple disabilities in this sample of Black adoptees, further exploration of whether there are large numbers of more severely disabled Black children who remain in foster care is warranted.

Learning Objectives:
To recognize differences in adoption outcomes for Black children with disabilities as compared to non-Black children with disabilities To develop culturally-appropriate policy and practice approaches for dealing with adoption outcome disparities for Black adoptees of color

Keywords: Adoption, Children With Special Needs

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.