Census data, Simmons and Dye found that approximately 4. Triggers for custodial grandparenting vary. Jendrek found that emotional, mental, and drug or alcohol problems of the child's parents were the most often cited reasons.
Indeed, the role of custodial grandparenting can be fraught with complexities. Caring for children with intense needs induces greater strain. Despite the lack of formal planning or financial assistance, relatives especially grandparents kept families together, preventing these children from entering the child welfare system. Daphne explored the physical and emotional health of grandparents raising HIV-affected grandchildren.
The findings generally underscored the emotional resiliency of older relatives, but they also showed that some experience emotional distress that may reveal vulnerabilities masked by a determination to provide care.
Grandparents frequently meet these obligations with limited legal and economic resources. Goodman and Silverstein noted that African American grandmothers experienced an enhanced sense of well-being. Deleterious outcomes emerged primarily during the initial period of providing custodial care in skipped-generation households, whereas grandparents who babysat showed improvements in health Hughes et al.
Kinship Foster Care Kinship foster care shifts preexisting kin relationships, including but not limited to grandparents, toward a legally recognized parent—child relationship. Kin foster parenting has exploded in recent years as a practicable, and often preferable, alternative to traditional i. Some studies have found that children placed with kin have fewer mental health and behavioral problems than those placed with nonrelatives Berrick et al.
In a geographically diverse sample of children in kin and nonkin foster homes, researchers found that kinship foster children had behavioral scores as measured by the Child Behavior Checklist comparable with those of children in the general population; however, those children in nonkin foster homes were more often reported to have lower levels of competence and higher levels of problematic behaviors, with substantial numbers scoring in the clinical range Keller et al.
Although there are mixed findings, most published studies illustrate that there are positive potential benefits of being placed with relatives. As a result, federal legislation gives preference to kinship care whenever possible. As the number of children placed in kinship foster care has grown, so too has the incidence of kin adoption U.
However, there is a dearth of literature specifically focusing on such adoption forms; much of what is assumed about kinship adoptions comes from research on kinship foster care. Although kin relationships may be captured in extant adoption research, few studies appear to focus specifically on the outcomes for kin-adopted children and their adoptive parents, and none examines adoptive families headed by older adults. In a descriptive comparison of kin and nonkin adoptions, Magruder found that These children spent more time in foster care, but had fewer placements prior to adoption.
Those in kinship care were significantly worse off on almost every measure school activity and involvement, health, and caregiver relationship.
Although the investigators did not consider caregiver age, their work reveals the vulnerability of these at-risk children. In a study of adoptions of all types, Rosenthal and Groze identified 73 kinship adoptions. They compared kin adoptive parents' assessments of the adoption's impact on their family. However, the study did not examine how adoption by an older adult, in combination with other variables, contributes to outcomes.
They found that kin adoptive parents were more likely to be single parents and older than their counterparts 52 years old on average , and they had significantly less income.
Children were placed into kin adoptive homes significantly earlier than their counterparts, but they waited longer for adoption finalization. Although this is the most comprehensive picture of kinship adoptions to date, it does not explore how preadoptive kinship or parental age impacts adoption outcomes.
We find limited research on the significance of preadoptive kinship to adoption outcomes and no previous study specifically focused on kin adoptions by adults aged 60 and older. To address these gaps, we pose the following research questions. First, what are the characteristics of older kin and older nonkin adoptive parents?
Second, what are the characteristics of the children adopted by older kin and older nonkin parents? Third, what are the parent—child relationship characteristics exhibited by older kin and older nonkin adoptive families? Fourth, does preadoptive kinship among older adoptive families predict current parent—child relationship quality, family functioning, or adoption outcomes after one controls for various household, parent, and child factors?
Methods Participants In this study we use data from the first wave of the Florida Adoption Project, which investigates key factors of successful and unsuccessful adoptive placements. Parents in Florida receiving a subsidy for at least one so-called special needs child adopted through the public child welfare system were eligible for the study. The meaning of this term varies but typically refers to children who are more difficult to place as a result of being adopted at an older age, having a minority status, being part of sibling groups, and exhibiting emotional, physical, behavioral, or educational disabilities caused by their maltreatment histories.
Once adopted, they may be difficult to parent, which leads to poorer relationship, family, and adoption outcomes McKenzie, The sampling frame was the current adoption subsidy role, which included 9, parents and 14, children.
We excluded those parents electing to be removed from the survey or with incorrect addresses, as well as children ineligible for the study i. Parents indicated if and in what capacity they had known the child prior to adoption. Further information about the nature of that relationship was not sought.
We subset the sample to children with at least one adoptive parent aged 60 and older, and we divided this group on the basis of preadoptive kinship status between the parent s and adopted child. Research Instruments The survey was developed in partnership with an advisory panel to obtain a broad range of data from adoptive families.
The panel was composed of persons with personal or professional adoption experience, including four internationally known adoption scholars, the head adoption official for the state of Florida at the time, three district-level adoption professionals, four adoptive parents, and three adult adopted persons. Each panelist provided comments on the inclusion or exclusion of questions or topics, as well as the appropriateness of terminology, readability, and overall survey structure.
Missing Values Item nonresponse is expected in survey designs. We used multiple random imputation MRI to address this problem. MRI is a gold-standard approach to representing missing values, because it is not deterministic and incorporates uncertainty into the final imputed values Allison, Analysis We describe the study sample and use chi-square and t-test methods to compare the subsamples. We then use ordinary least squares regression to estimate the effects of preadoptive kin status on five outcomes net of other factors.
Some families reported adopting more than one child. To assess whether the clustering of adopted children within families impacted our analyses, we fit null hierarchical linear models using the unique family identifier as the second-level factor. The results showed no significant clustering effect for any model. We also tested for but did not find problematic multicollinearity among our independent measures. Control Variables We include several control measures that have been found important in prior empirical studies of adoption outcomes.
Parental education represents the highest level of formal education achieved by the parent s , and it ranges from less than high school 1 to postgraduate 6. We also include continuous measures of household income and household size to adjust for demands on family resources.
Participants were asked whether their child exhibited behavioral, emotional, physical, or educational needs at the time of adoption, and they were asked to rate the severity of each need type from 1 mild to 10 severe. We created a composite need measure from these responses. Need severity is the child's mean z score in relation to the entire sample across the four severity measures.
In contrast to internalizing behavior e. Commentary reviews Freeark et al. Time is a critical factor in adoption success. We control for both the child's current age and finalization delay the difference in years between a child's placement with the family and adoption finalization. Dependent Variables Three dependent variables are single-item measures. Parents were asked following: How satisfied are you with your overall adoption experience with this child?
To assess parent—child relationship quality, we use a six-item version of a previously developed scale based on social control theory and related to parent—child attachment Groze, This scale assesses how well the parent and child communicate, how much time they spend together, how much trust and respect the parent has for the child, and how emotionally close they are.
Responses to each item were based on a 4-point scale, with lower scores representing less parent—child relationship satisfaction, as reported by the primary respondent. The FFSS is based on the strengths perspective and measures the extent to which the respondent believes his or her family exhibits different strengths and capabilities. It consists of 26 items rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 not at all like my family to 3 sometimes like my family to 5 almost always like my family.
We use the mean score as a global assessment of family functioning. Higher scores reflect more positive family functioning. These families differed significantly across three sociodemographic variables. Adoptive mothers in kin families reported significantly less formal education than those in nonkin households. On average, kin families contained 2.
Consequently, they were also smaller overall by 1. Parent—Child Relationship Adoptive parents expressed different attitudes toward the adoption see Table 3. Multivariate Findings We estimated separate ordinary least squares regression models to assess the importance of preadoptive kinship to five outcome measures among these grander families: adoption satisfaction, willingness to adopt the child again, impact of the family, FFSS score, and satisfaction with the parent—child relationship.
In each model, we controlled for household income, household size, needs severity, CBCL externalizing score, finalization delay, child age, parental education, and parental race. Only externalizing behavior was significant across the five models, exhibiting a negative relationship with each outcome. In addition, higher current child age predicted a lower likelihood that a parent would adopt again, a more negative assessment of family impact, and poorer parent—child relationship satisfaction.
These outcomes were unaffected by parental education or race. Discussion This initial exploration into the characteristics and outcomes for older kin and older nonkin adoptive families advances our understanding of an important and increasingly prevalent family form.
Several limitations temper our interpretation of the findings. We may have improperly characterized parents' preadoptive relationship to the child. For example, it is possible that some kin were licensed foster parents for the child and identified themselves as such rather than as a relative; others may have indicated they were related to the child although they did not share a biological or other legally recognized familial relationship.
Furthermore, we achieved a low response rate, which is common for adoption survey research Yoon, In fact, this was typified by the attitude of respondents while being interviewed. Interestingly, even after reacting in this manner, many respondents were still willing to adopt if necessary.
This demonstrates the place and importance of counseling, which health care providers must offer to infertile clients. In this study, almost half of the respondents thought that child adoption should be encouraged, and the majority were willing to adopt if their infertility became intractable. This is higher than the People in this part of the world are known to be very religious.
This is seen in the fact that almost half of the respondents believed that treatment of their infertility will have the desired outcome, and the majority based their belief on faith rather than on the actual success rate of treatment. This is important because the belief that treatment always brought about the desired outcome was found to be significantly associated with an unfavorable attitude to child adoption.
This means that those who thought that treatment would have the desired outcome because of their faith were less willing to adopt. The general belief is that infertility is temporary. This encourages couples to wait patiently for several years as long as 15—20 years in some instances , thereby making them less likely to accept adoption as a solution.
Other concerns were fear of abnormal behavior in the child or diseases inherited from biological parents which may be socially unacceptable eg, psychiatric illness or epilepsy. For many respondents, the prospect of adoption was psychologically unacceptable and they felt they could not love the child as their own.
Family reasons were cited by a few respondents who were unwilling to adopt. These cultural and family reasons given for not accepting child adoption are similar to those seen in previous studies in developing countries. However, the reasons offered are worthy of note.
Some Muslim respondents stated that adoption was prohibited by their religion. In fact, in Egypt, under Muslim law, adoption is illegal. Interestingly, this study showed that there were more respondents willing to raise a child from a relative or an unrelated friend or acquaintance than those willing to adopt a child. Child fostering is widely practiced in traditional African societies, although is not yet institutionalized in Nigeria. The explanation for these significant factors is not far-fetched.
For instance, a woman who has one or more living children, may not see the reason to adopt another one as a solution to her problem. In fact, many respondents with one or more children alive were unwilling to adopt and cited this very reason. Similarly, knowing about adoption is likely to remove misconceptions and make a couple more willing to adopt a child. A person whose duration of infertility is more than 5 years will more likely experience personal pressure and pressure from parents, which may make that person more determined to find a solution to the problem, and so embrace adoption.
Having tertiary education suggests that a person is enlightened and probably better informed about such issues. Having enlightenment and information about adoption has already been shown to affect attitudes to adoption favorably. Thus, a person who has tertiary education is more likely to have a correct understanding and a more favorable attitude towards adoption.
The social welfare department, the agency of government charged with the responsibility of child adoption, usually inspects the homes and living conditions of prospective adoptive parents, to assess their capability to cater adequately for adoptees.
This may be discouraging for those who earn less and have poorer living conditions, thereby making them less willing to adopt. Conclusion There was a surprisingly high level of awareness about child adoption among the respondents in this study.
However, the acceptability of adoption was significantly lower among poor women and those with limited education. Community advocacy and mobilization, especially through the media, as well as health care providers playing their role in counseling, will go a long way towards enlightenment and enhancement of the uptake of child adoption by women in developing countries.
Acknowledgments The authors acknowledge the contribution of the medical records department staff from Lagos State University Teaching Hospital to this study. Footnotes The authors declare no conflicts of interest in this work.
References 1. Dyer SI. The value of children in African countries, insight from studies in infertility. J Psychosom Obstet Gynaecol. Infecundity, infertility and childlessness in developing countries. Aina OF. Niger Postgrad Med J. Burden of domestic violence amongst infertile women attending infertility clinics in Nigeria. Niger J Med. International estimates of infertility prevalence and treatment-seeking: potential need and demand for infertility medical care.
Hum Reprod.This may be due to the prevailing attitude of the patients themselves that their infertility is curable. Lastly, although this and other studies demonstrate positive outcomes for kin and older adoptive families, ageism among child welfare workers may be a barrier to such placements. This study also exhibits several important strengths. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; Child fostering is widely practiced in traditional African societies, although is not yet institutionalized in Nigeria of this manuscript. In all analyses comparing adoptive and nonadoptive samples, important sociodemodraphic characteristics were controlled to remove potential confounding variance. Can assisted reproduction technology compensate for the natural decline in fertility with age. This may be due to the prevailing attitude of the patients themselves that their infertility is curable.
Commentary reviews Freeark et al. We created a composite need measure from these responses. We identified descriptive and outcome differences between older kin and nonkin adoptive families. A behavioral coding system grounded in attachment theory was used Egeland et al. This is important because the belief that treatment always brought about the desired outcome was found to be significantly associated with an unfavorable attitude to child adoption. Levy-Schiff, Goldschmit, and Har-Evan reported that the more support adoptive parents received and the higher their expectations of life with a child, the more satisfaction they felt after their child arrived.
It consists of 26 items rated on a 5-point scale ranging from 1 not at all like my family to 3 sometimes like my family to 5 almost always like my family. Other concerns were fear of abnormal behavior in the child or diseases inherited from biological parents which may be socially unacceptable eg, psychiatric illness or epilepsy. This may include, but is not limited to, respite care, food and housing assistance, and specific training on managing the complex details of parenting in today's society. Yuen, B. Strength in Kinship Our analyses reveal a negative relationship between preadoptive kinship and perceived impact of the adoption on the family, net of household, parent, and child characteristics. Discussion This initial exploration into the characteristics and outcomes for older kin and older nonkin adoptive families advances our understanding of an important and increasingly prevalent family form.
As the number of children placed in kinship foster care has grown, so too has the incidence of kin adoption U. Social support has been shown to act as a buffer for stress and mental health issues in adoptive families Bird et al. Stockholm, Sweden: Karolinska Institutet; A behavioral coding system grounded in attachment theory was used Egeland et al.