In 2007, the National Survey of Adopted Parents (NSAP) published a nationally representative survey measuring a variety of attributes related to adoption and adopted children in the United States. The study focused on the personality characteristics of adopted children, general adoption experiences, and the well-being of adopted children and their families. Overall, the study found that not only do adopted children thrive as much as children in the general population, they actually exceed the general population of children in many respects. This study is especially compelling considering that it analyzed adopted children both as a total group and as smaller divisions based on the type of adoption (private domestic, international, or foster care). The study compares the general group of adopted children to the general population of children, while also comparing each division of adopted children to each other.
The study found that adopted children progress well both socially and emotionally. The vast majority of adopted children are reported as being in “excellent” or “very good” health and almost all adopted children exhibit “positive social behaviors” by the age of 6, meaning that they “get along well with other children,” “try to understand other people’s feelings,” “show respect for teachers and neighbors,” and “try to resolve conflicts with classmates, family, or friends.”
The study confirmed that educationally and academically, adopted children thrive. According to NSAP, the majority of adopted children are “actively engaged” in school. This is based on the degree to which the child cares about doing well in school, the frequency with which they complete homework, and their general success academically. Most adopted children have “excellent” or “very good” performance in language arts, reading, and mathematics.
These high educational success rates may be a result of the manner in which adopted children are raised. NSAP found that adopted children often receive more individualized, constructive attention from parents when they are young than children raised by their biological parents. A larger number of adopted children were read to, sung to, or told stories every day than children in the general population. It was also found that as adopted children reach school age, a larger percentage tend to be involved in extracurricular activities.
Family life for adopted children was also reported as beneficial and positive. Adopted children are more likely to live in safe neighborhoods and less likely to live in neighborhoods with poor “physical conditions” (i.e. areas with significant amount of litter, garbage, dilapidated housing, or vandalism). Adopted children also tend to eat meals with their families between 6-7 days a week, more frequently than most children raised by their own parents. Adopted children are also less likely to have parents that describe their relationship as only “fairly happy” or “not too happy.” Most adoptive parents report that they are not aggravated by their child, and an overwhelming majority of adoptive parents say that they would “definitely make the decision [to adopt] again.”
The NSAP study is proof that adopted children flourish in their new environments and that adoption is a beneficial experience for both children and their adoptive parents.