Termination of parental rights and adoption in foster care

Minkyoung Song, University of Pennsylvania


The purpose of this study is twofold: (a) to examine the timing and the risk factors associated with TPR of children who first enter foster care; and, (b) to examine the timing and the risk factors associated with the adoption of legally-free foster children. For the purpose of the study, two samples were drawn from foster care files of Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) in 32 states between October 1998 (FY 1999) and September 2002 (FY 2002). Potential risk factors extracted from the AFCARS for examining both TPR and adoption include age and race/ethnicity of child, type of child maltreatment, and type and location of foster care placement. Risk factors specific to TPR include number of removals from the home and age of primary caretaker when the child was removed. Risk factors specific to adoption include race/ethnicity of caretaker at placement and household structure of foster care family. The timing and post-TPR was examined by plotting the Kaplan-Meier survivor/and hazard functions. Logistic regression and Cox proportional-hazards regression analyses were used to identify risk factors. The hazard of TPR was very low after first entering foster care, but increased rapidly starting at 10 months and then declined after 32 months in care. Factors associated with a higher likelihood of TPR include younger age, back/African American, parental substance abuse, and parental abandonment. The hazard of adoption was very low immediately after TPR but increased steadily starting at 3 months and then declined after 20 months. Racial minority status and older age was negatively associated with the hazard of adoption. Characteristics of foster care services turned out to be powerful predictors of adoption. Specifically, legally-free children placed in pre-adoptive homes, those who shared the same racial/ethnic background with their foster caretakers, and those who were placed in two-parent families have a greater likelihood of adoption. Our findings confirm prior research results regarding the disparity between White and racial/ethnic minority children in permanency outcomes and highlight the importance of increasing pre-adoptive homes from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds as a plausible intervention strategy in promoting adoption for legally-free minority children.

Subject Area

Social work|Welfare

Recommended Citation

Song, Minkyoung, "Termination of parental rights and adoption in foster care" (2006). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3225547.