Background Adopted children have a higher risk of developmental, mental, behavioural and social problems compared with non-adopted children, and their use of postadoption support services is of interest. Little attention has been given to the impact of preadoption abuse on the use of these services, and therefore this study examines whether or not adoptive parents' suspicion of preadoption abuse has a significant impact on the use of support services by adopted children.
Methods Data from the National Survey of Adoptive Parents, a US nationally representative survey of adopted children, were used to examine parents' suspicion of preadoption abuse and its effects on the use of postadoption support services by children aged 6–17 years (n= 1411). Statistical analyses were used to examine the relationship between suspected abuse and the use of support services while controlling for characteristics of the adopted child and adoptive parents/household.
Results Seven out of 10 adopted children have used some form of support service, and a larger percentage of 6- to 12-year-old children suspected of experiencing preadoption abuse used a support service compared with children not suspected of experiencing abuse. Significant relationships existed between various types of suspected preadoption abuse and the use of different types of postadoption support services. These relationships may go unaccounted for when only examining if any preadoption abuse occurred, or if any support service was used.
Conclusions The type of preadoption abuse suspected appears to play a modest role in predicting the type of postadoption support services used by an adopted child. Giving further attention to understanding the relationship between different types of preadoption abuse and types of postadoption support services may help better understand the problems and difficulties experienced by adopted children.