Adoption and guardianship: A moderated mediation analysis of predictors of post-permanency continuity

Mark F. Testa, Susan M. Snyder, Qi Wu, Nancy Rolock, Minli Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


The original thinking behind permanency planning for foster children was to secure a caregiver's intention to provide a permanent home, not to guarantee it. Little is known, however, about how intentions change after permanence or what effect this change has on post-permanency continuity of care. This study examined the mediating effects of caregivers' thoughts about ending an adoption or guardianship, and how this mechanism may be contingent on primordial and bureaucratic factors that child welfare agencies rely on to ensure family continuity after legal permanence. In 2006, a sample of 346 Illinois caregivers who finalized an adoption or guardianship between 1998 and 2002 completed surveys about child behavior problems, the adequacy of financial assistance, and thoughts about maintaining the permanency relationship. Responses were linked to administrative data that tracked continuity of care through 2012. Simple mediation and moderated mediation hypotheses of the effects of caregiver thoughts on post-permanency continuity were tested. At last observation, 8% of caregivers were no longer living with the child or stopped receiving subsidies on the child's behalf. Thoughts expressed at survey time about ending the permanency relationship mediated the effect of child behavior problems on post-permanency discontinuity rates. This indirect effect was more pronounced among distantly related kin, lone caregivers, and caregivers who felt the subsidy was inadequate to cover their expenses. Our findings suggest that post-permanency services should target a narrow segment of caregivers who express weakened permanency commitments that arise from the challenges of parenting a child with multiple behavioral problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-118
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Adoption disruption
  • Legal guardianship
  • Permanency planning
  • Post-permanency services

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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