The National Institutes of Health released a report this week stating “adopted children have higher rates of mental health problems than all other children.” As the parent of a child adopted from Russia, the news was more “duh” than revelatory.
For those of us in the adoption world, the report — the 15th in a series issued since 1997 by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics – may state the obvious. But it is also throws a gauntlet at the feet of social service agencies and policy makers.
During the past twenty years, the adoption landscape has been radically transformed. From the secretive adoption of babies born to unwed and predominantly white mothers, the norm today is arranged, open adoption of newborns, children from foster care or children from institutions and orphanages in far flung parts of the world.
Recent statistics help put this shift into perspective. Out of the approximately 135,000 children adopted in the U.S. last year, 11,000 (most between the ages of one and two) were internationally adopted. Here in the U.S. just over 52,000 children were adopted into non-family member homes from foster care.
Adam Pertman, Executive Director of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, said in an interview that, “many adopted kids today enter their new families with pre-adoption lives. For them, this means they’ve experienced abuse, neglect, or [if from an inter-country placement] institutionalization.” Continue reading