Ready to adopt: Characteristics and expectations of preadoptive families pursuing international adoptions

Janet Welsh, Andres Viana, Stephen Petrill, Matthew Mathias

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The present work is a descriptive study of preadoptive characteristics of families pursuing international adoptions. Families were recruited through six adoption agencies and two Internet-based support groups for internationally adopting parents. The sample included 256 prospective parents who responded to a survey assessing various aspects of preadoptive psychological functioning, family demographics and social support, preparation for the adoption, satisfaction with the agency, and expectations for the prospective adopted child. Results revealed that parents reported high levels of social support and low levels of psychological distress. Systematic birth country differences emerged in the amount of information parents had regarding their prospective adopted children, with parents adopting from Korea having significantly more information than others. Expectations for children were related more consistently to child characteristics than to family variables, and most parents reported very positive expectations. Positive expectations for the prospective child were related to child age and family social support. Expectations of mild problems were related to the child's birth country, with parents adopting from Korea and Latin America expecting fewer mild problems than parents adopting from other countries. Expectations of serious problems were few and were related to children's age at adoption and anticipated special needs status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)176-203
Number of pages28
JournalAdoption Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2008

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Demography
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Law


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