Adopted Children with Special Health Care Needs: Characteristics, Health, and Health Care by Adoption Type. Improving Data on Adopted Children


Since 2004, the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics have collaborated on several interrelated activities intended to expand survey data about the health and well-being of adopted children.  These efforts include (1) analysis regarding the health of adopted children based on the 2003 National Survey of Children’s Health (Bramlett et al., 2007); (2) the addition of questions to the 2005-2006 National Survey of Children with Special Health Care Needs (NS-CSHCN) and the 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH) to enable the identification of adoption type and age at adoption for each adopted child in these surveys; and (3) the development and implementation of the National Survey of Adoptive Parents (NSAP).  The NSAP is a 35-minute telephone survey intended to provide information on the health and well-being of adopted children, as well as information about their needs and service utilization, their families’ well-being, and their adoption-related experiences.  The NSAP was conducted as an add-on to the 2007 NSCH (with a sample size of approximately 2,000 completed interviews) and as a call-back to adoptive parents who responded to the 2005-2006 NS-CSHCN (approximately 1,000 completed interviews).  Data collection for both components was completed in the summer of 2008 and results will be available in 20092.

The present analysis takes advantage of questions in the 2005-2006 NS-CSHCN that allow adopted children in the sample to be grouped by adoption type (foster care, international, and domestic private).  The analysis provides a descriptive profile of adopted CSHCN, explores ways in which adopted CSHCN are similar to and different from other CSHCN, and describes their health status, health conditions and health care access and utilization across adoption types. The analyses below exclude adoptive families in which a biological parent also resides in the household, primarily step-parent adoptions.

2 For information on the content of the NSAP and public use files, see

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