Follow-up of Older Children Who Have Been Adopted

About half of the children adopted in Israel are older children ages two-14. The Service for the Child, which is the service within the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs that deals with Adoption, and other services in the field of adoption view the care of these children as a genuine challenge. This follow-up study was intended to provide systematic information about older children who have been adopted, the adoption process, and the outcome of their adoption several years later.

As part of the study, a telephone survey was conducted among the adoptive parents of 179 older children who were adopted between 1985 and 1994. In addition, detailed information was gathered from the adoption files on the children’s background prior to their adoption, and face-to-face, in-depth interviews were conducted with key people in the field of adoption and with the parents of children in seven families.

The following were among the questions examined by the study:

  • What do the children experience before they are adopted?
  • How long is the adoption process, and how long are each of its stages?
  • Which families adopt older children?
  • How do the children function in various areas of life after their adoption?
  • What relationships are formed within the family after adoption?
  • How do professionals help the children and families, and to what degree are parents satisfied with this help?

The findings of the survey indicate that for most the children, adoption is a successful solution. Most of the children function well, and most of the parents are satisfied with the effect of adoption on their family. Nevertheless, a large proportion of the children and families cope with difficulties, some of them severe, and some of which have not necessarily received appropriate responses.

This study raised a number of issues for further consideration, including the attitude toward the children’s biological families and the difficulties of adopted adolescents and young adults. It also suggested directions for the development of long-term services. The findings indicate that the Service for the Child is now undergoing a change in its approach to adoption – from one that sees adoption as a proxy to parenting from birth, to one that sees it as a continuous process of coping with difficulties and building a relationship. This approach recognizes that, in order for this process to succeed, years of support and guidance are needed from therapeutic agents.

This study was initiated and partially funded by the Research Department of the Division of Research, Planning and Training of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs