Our analysis used North Carolina data from three sources: (1) summary information on each child receiving adoption assistance, (2) vendor payments made in the name of adopted children, and (3) records of adoption subsidy checks. Because payment data were not available prior to January 1, 1990, the study population was restricted to the 8,647 children adopted after that date. Foster care placement records were then used to identify children who either had records of adoption assistance payments or who were identified as having been adopted prior to the foster care placement. These matches were complicated by the use of different ID numbers at the time of initial out-of-home placement, at adoption, and at the time of any subsequent out-of-home placement.
Children in the study population were approximately evenly divided by gender; more than half were members of minority groups. Only 12 percent of the children were older than 11 at the time of the final decree of adoption. The vast majority (90 percent) were currently receiving some form of adoption assistance. Virtually all of the children (99.8 percent) were identified as emotionally disturbed, which meets the adoption assistance eligibility requirement for special needs. Seventy percent had been adopted in the past five years.