Post-adoption service needs of families with special needs children: Use, helpfulness, and unmet needs

Thom Reilly, Laune Platz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


This study was conducted to explore post-adoptive service needs of families adopting special needs children. In addition, the research examined the relationship of post-adoption service utilization to positive adoption outcomes. Two hundred forty-nine (N = 249) special needs adoptive families representing 373 children responded to a mailed survey as part of this study. Financial, medical, and dental supports, and subsidies emerged as the most frequently cited service needs. Reports of unmet needs included: counseling services and in-home supports (respite care, daycare and babysitting services). The receipt of financial supports, other supports such as social work coordination and legal services and informal supports (support groups for parents and children) were significantly associated with higher satisfaction with parenting. Unmet service needs in the form of counseling, informal supports, other supports, out of home placement needs, financial supports, and in-home supports were associated with a lower perceived quality of relationship between the adoptive parent and child and a more negative impact on the family and marriage. No differences were found between former foster parents to the adoptive child and new parents to the child or on primary caregiver's characteristics such as race/ethnicity, age, marital status, and religious practice. Implications for practice and policy are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-67
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Social Service Research
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • Post-adoption services
  • Special needs
  • Unmet needs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science


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