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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Reasons for Attrition Among Public Adoption Seekers

  • Author(s): Weissinger, Erika
  • Advisor(s): Mauldon, Jane
  • et al.

The purpose of this study is to identify the main reasons public adoption seekers do not complete the adoption process. I conduct interviews with public adoption seekers from two California counties who dropped out of the process. I find that the most common reasons given for dropping out of the process are

-changes in personal circumstance (for reasons such as losing a job or becoming ill);

-dissatisfaction with agencies (for reasons such as poor customer service, the process being too lengthy, or perceived discrimination);

-being too busy; and

-having an insufficient income or being unable to meet the housing requirements.

In examining the relationship between the socioeconomic characteristics of prospective adoptive parents and attrition, I find that lower-income adoption seekers most often drop out because they experience instability in their personal circumstances, have insufficient income, or do not meet agency housing requirements. I find that middle- and upper-income adoption seekers most often drop out due to insufficient time to complete the steps in the process or dissatisfaction with foster care adoption agencies.

Although many reasons for dropping out may seem to be beyond the influence of agencies, I argue that if the foster care adoption process were more efficient, prospective parents would be less likely to drop out due to life-changing events or due to being too busy to complete the process. Agencies appear to have room for improvement in terms of providing better customer service, making the process more clear and efficient, and complying with federal legislation.

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