Table of Contents

Benefits of Adoption

1. Benefits for Children

Adopted children do as well as or better than their non-adopted counterparts, according to a 1994 study by the Search Institute, a Minneapolis-based public policy research organization specializing in questions of concern to states and cities.1) This study concludes that:

Virtually all of these findings have been replicated by Nicholas Zill, Vice President and Director of Child and Family Studies at Westat Research Corporation of Maryland, in his analysis of data from the federal government's 1988 National Health Interview Survey on Child Health.10) Results from the survey were compared across four groups: adopted children, children of unmarried mothers being raised by the mother, children of intact families, and children being raised by their grandparents. The data indicated that adopted children:

When compared with those adopted later, born outside of marriage and raised by the single mother, or raised in an intact family, children who are adopted in infancy:

2. Benefits for Biological Mothers

Teenage mothers who choose adoption fare better than mothers who choose to be single parents on a number of measures.

1) , 3) , 4) Peter L. Benson, Anu R. Shorma, and Eugene C. Roehlkepartain, Growing Up Adopted – A Portrait of Adolescents and Their Families (Minneapolis: Search Institute, 1994).
2) This finding illustrates the power of early adoption and the need to reform agency practices which keep children in prolonged foster care during their early infancy, when they are highly adoptable.
5) Kathlyn S. Marquis and Richard A. Detweiler, “Does Adoption Mean Different? An Attributional Analysis,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48, no. 4 (1985): 1054-1066. Clinical studies traditionally have shown adopted adolescents to be overrepresented in psychiatric settings. The same occurred here, but these adolescents were found not to have emotional or psychological problems at these rates. Adopted adults are less likely to receive treatment than the general population. This seeming contradiction occurs because adoptive parents are more likely to refer their adopted children for possible treatment. Of all adopted children referred by parents for clinical treatment, only 27 percent had a clinical diagnosis. The remainder – almost 75 percent – received counseling for normal adolescent issues.
6) Nicholas Zill, “Behavior and Learning Problems Among Adopted Children: Findings from a U.S. National Survey of Child Health,” Child Trends, Inc., Washington, D.C.; paper presented to the Society for Research in Child Development, April 27, 1985.
7) Nicholas Zill, “Adopted Children in the United States: A Profile Based on a National Survey of Child Health,” testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, May 1995.
8) Christine A. Bachrach, “Adoption Plans, Adopted Children and Adoptive Mothers,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 48, (1986): 243-253; Christine A. Bachrach, “Children in Families: Characteristics of Biological, Step-, and Adopted Children,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 45, (1983): 171-179.
9) National Committee for Adoption, Unmarried Parents Today, 1985. As cited by Patrick F. Fagan, “Promoting Adoption Reform: Congress Can Give Children Another Chance,” Heritage Backgrounder no. 1080 (1996). Available at http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/1996/05/bg1080nbsp-promoting-adoption-reform#68.
10) Nicholas Zill, Mary Jo Caoiro, and Barbara Bloom, “Health of Our Nation's Children,” Vital and Health Statistics 10, no. 191, (1994); Nicholas Zill, “Adopted Children in the United States: A Profile Based on a National Survey of Child Health,” testimony before the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Resources, May 1995.
11) As measured by regular bedtime, use of seatbelts, and absence of an adult smoker in the household.
12) As measured by insurance coverage, dental visits, and regular provider of sick care.
13) As measured by rank in class, repeating a grade, or being suspended.
14) Christine A. Bachrach, Kathy S. Stolley and Kathryn A. London, “Relinquishment of Premarital Births: Evidence From the National Survey Data,” Family Planning Perspectives (1992); see also Christine Bachrach, “Adoption Plans, Adopted Children and Adoptive Mothers,” Journal of Marriage and the Family 48, (1986): 243-253
15) Steven D. McLaughlin, Diane L. Manninen, and Linda D. Winges, “Do Adolescents Who Relinquish Their Children Fare Better or Worse Than Those Who Raise Them?” Family Planning Perspectives (January-February 1988).


This entry draws heavily from Promoting Adoption Reform: Congress Can Give Children Another Chance.