This research brief presents information on adopted children with special health care needs,1 using data from the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN). The analysis takes advantage of questions in the NS-CSHCN that allow adopted children in the sample to be grouped and compared by adoption type, that is, foster care adoptions, international adoptions, and domestic adoptions through sources other than the public child welfare system (for convenience discussed below as “private domestic adoptions”). Findings provide a descriptive profile of adopted children with special health care needs (CSHCN); explore ways in which adopted CSHCN are similar to and different from other CSHCN; and describe their health status, health conditions and health care access and utilization across adoption types. The analysis excludes adoptive families in which a biological parent also resides in the household, which are primarily step-parent adoptions. The data presented are nationally representative of adopted CSHCN. Because only CSHCN are included in the sample, however, results may not be generalized to adopted children overall.
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1 While “special needs” in most fields is a shorthand for special health care needs, in adoption practice special needs also typically refers to a variety of factors such as the child’s age and/or race/ethnicity that may make finding an adoptive home more difficult (Bower and Laws, 2002). References to special needs in the child welfare literature cannot be interpreted as synonymous with special health care needs. In this paper we refer specifically to children’s special health care needs.