Care and Commitment

Foster Parent Adoption Decisions

Edited by William Meezan & Joan F. Shireman

Subjects: Adolescent Studies
Paperback : 9780887061042, 247 pages, November 1985
Hardcover : 9780887061035, 247 pages, November 1985

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
The Framework
The Inquiry
2. Background of the Study
Foster Parents as Adoptive Parents - A Shift in Philosophy
The Adoption Decision
Conditions for Foster Parent Adoption
Failure of Foster Parent Adoptions
Outcome of Long Term Foster Care
Outcome of Adoptions by Foster Parents
Some Conclusions
3. The Design of the Research
The Setting
Date Collection Pattern
The Sample
The Sampling Framework
Sample Selection: The Children Adopted or Not Adopted
Sample Selection: The Children Whose Adoptions Failed
The Final Sample
The Workers Interviewed
The Families Interviewed
The Instruments for Data Collection
Instruments for Sample Selection and Clarification
Instruments to Gather the General Ideas of the Worker
Instruments to Gather the Workers' Knowledge of the Families
Instruments to Interview the Family
Hiring and Training of Interviewers
Data Collection
Data Reduction
Coding Reliability
Data Analysis
4. Parents and Children
The Families
Family Composition
Socio-economic Status
Motivations to Foster
Living Patterns
The Children
Age at Interview
Coming into Care
Age at Placement in This Home
Time in This Home
Special Needs at Placement
Special Needs at the Time of Adoption Discussion
The Families Not Interviewed
The Families With Two Sample Children
5. Becoming a Family
The Match of the Child and Family
The Placement Process
The Child in the Family
Changes in the Children
Contact with the Biological Family
Beginning to Decide About Adoption
The Decision About Adoption
The Child and Family Since the Decision
A Note on Changes in the Family
6. The Agency Experience
The Agency Experience in General
History as Foster Parents
Preparation With Workers
The Agency Experience Regarding the Specific Child
The Placement
The Adoption Decision
The Worker-Family Relationship
Involvement in Foster Care Processes
Adoption Subsidy
Service After the Decision
Interviewer's Judgment of Agency Service
7. Refining the Distinction Between Adopting and Non-Adopting Foster Parents
Family Characteristics
Child Characteristics
Parent-Child Interaction
Agency Service Variables
The Combined Factors
8. Foster Parent Adoptions That Failed
The Sample and Incidence of Failure
The Families Interviewed
The Children's Histories
Becoming a Family
The Adoption Decision
The Children at the Time of the Placement Failure
The Parents at the Time of the Placement Failure
The Disruption of the Adoption
The Children and Their Families Later
9. The Workers, Their Attitudes, and Their Ideas About Foster Parent Adoptions
The Workers
Work Functions
Experience With Foster Parent Adoptions
Working Conditions
Future Career Plans
The Workers' Attitudes
Index Construction
The Specific Attitudes
The Interrelationship of the Indices
The Workers' Ideas
The Adoption Decision
Priority in Adoption
Pursuing Adoption for Children
Problems in Arranging for Adoptions
Adoption Failure
10. Conclusions and Implications
The Findings
Pointers Toward Adoption
The Partnership of Foster Parents and Social Workers
Preparation for Foster Care and Adoption
Biological Parent Involvement
Children's Special Needs
Low Income Families
Beyond the Agency
The Role of the Social Workers


Care and Commitment is the first book to address the growing issue of foster parent adoption. Meezan and Shireman go directly to the source to find out why some foster parents, when given the opportunity, choose to adopt the children in their care while others do not. Differences between the two sets of families are explored in terms of family characteristics, child characteristics, family-child interaction, and child welfare agency service.

The culmination of a two-year study, this book presents the perspectives of both families who have made the decision and their social workers. It affords also the first look at foster parent adoptions that have failed, highlighting the importance of agency service in such adoptions. The book's timely and original findings are crucial for child welfare practitioners and all those interested in permanency planning for children and in the processes of family formation.

William Meezan is Associate Professor at the Jane Addams College of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago. Joan F. Shireman is Professor of Social Work, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon.

Both have extensive experience in child welfare services. Dr. Meezan's particular expertise is policy analysis, and Dr. Shireman has a background in direct services to children and families. These two perspectives are uniquely synthesized in this book.