THE EDUCATIONAL NEEDS OF ADOPTIVE PARENTS (ADOLESCENTS, ATTITUDES, SELF-ESTEEM, FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS)
The field of adoption has been changing rapidly. Is there a need for special preparation for adoptive parents?; The purpose of this study was to explore the educational needs of adoptive adolescents. In addition, the study examined the relationship between adoptive parent education and adopted adolescents' self-esteem, attitudes toward family and attitudes toward adoption. Thirty families in the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area volunteered to be interviewed. Each family had one or more adopted children between the ages of 13 and 18. Parents were interviewed as a unit and each of 38 adopted adolescents was interviewed separately. One-third of the families had no early adoptive education; two-thirds had participated in one or more adoptive education activities before they adopted or when their child was young. Parents who had participated in early adoptive education activities were generally more open about adoption with their children, and more readily acknowledged the difference between raising an adopted and a birth child. They were more aware that children's adoptive status may make a difference in their lives, were more receptive to learning more about adoption and its impact on their children, and expressed a more positive attitude toward the value of adoptive education. Families with adopted children only participated in greater number of early adoptive education activities than did families with both adopted and birth children. Compared to families with birth and adopted children, families with adopted children only expressed a greater need for information about adoption and its effects, indicated a greater willingness to participate in adoptive education activities and were more aware of the differences between raising an adopted and a birth child. Adolescents in families with adopted children only were more positive toward their family, had fewer concerns about their birth parents and thought about them less often, although they had similar self-esteem scores to adopted adolescents in families with birth and adopted children. Since adoptive education is desired by some parents and has beneficial effects for both parents and children, more educational opportunities should be made available.