Outcome Studies

Outcome studies are a well-established research genre today, but early in the twentieth century, they were new. How did adopted children and adoptive families turn out five, ten, or twenty years after placement? By finding out what had happened to children and parents later in life, outcome studies offered a way to predict and control future adoptions by studying the results of adoptions arranged in the past.

These studies defined outcomes in many different ways, but all tried to correlate “inputs”—such as child's sex, age at adoption, natal family background, and adopters' characteristics—with measures of child development, parental satisfaction, and success (or failure) later in life. They aimed to reveal which variables, in which combinations, produced which outcomes. Which family-making practices and kinship configurations had good results? Which had bad results? Outcome studies embodied the conviction that systematic research was essential to improving the results of future adoptions for children and families.

The first major outcome study was conducted by Sophie van Senden Theis and the New York State Charities Aid Association. How Foster Children Turn Out, published in 1924, followed up on the cases of 910 children placed between 1898 and 1922.


Chronological List of Outcome Studies


Ruth W. Lawton and J. Prentice Murphy, “A Study of Results of a Child-Placing Society” (paper presented at The National Conference of Charities and Correction, 1915), 164-174.


Mary Tinney, “An Interpretation of Three Thousand Placements by the New York Catholic Home Bureau” (paper presented at the Fourth National Conference of Catholic Charities, September 17-20, 1916), 181-198.


Sophie van Senden Theis, How Foster Children Turn Out, Publication No. 165 (New York: New York State Charities Aid Association, 1924).


Lee M. Brooks, “Forty Foster Homes Look at Adoption,” Family 15 (March 1934):13-17


Iris Ruggles Macrae, “An Analysis of Adoption Practices at the New England Home for Little Wanderers” (M.S. thesis, Simmons College, School of Social Work, 1937).


Lucie K. Browning, “A Private Agency Looks at the End Results of Adoptions,” Child Welfare League of America Bulletin 21 (January 1942):3-5.


Georgina D. Hotchkiss, “Adoptive Parents Talk About Their Children: A Follow-Up Study of Twenty-Four Children Adopted Through a Child Placing Agency” (M.S. thesis, Simmons College, 1950).


Hazel S. Morrison, “Research Study in an Adoption Program,” Child Welfare (July 1950):7-9, 12-13.


Ruth F. Brenner, A Follow-Up Study of Adoptive Families (New York: Child Adoption Research Committee, March 1951).


Catherine S. Amatruda and Joseph V. Baldwin, “Current Adoption Practices,” Journal of Pediatrics 38, no. 2 (February 1951):208-212.


Margarete Zur Nieden, “The Influence of Constitution and Environment Upon the Development of Adopted Children,” Journal of Psychology 31 (1951):91-95.


Mary Elizabeth Fairweather, “Early Placement in Adoption,” Child Welfare 31 (March 1952):3-8.


Abraham Joseph Simon, “Social Agency Adoption; A Psycho-Sociological Study in Prediction” (Ph.D. diss., Washington University, St. Louis, 1953).


M.E. Edwards, “Failure and Success in the Adoption of Toddlers,” Case Conference 1, no. 6 (November 1954):3-8.


Ruth Medway Davis and Polly Bouck, “Crucial Importance of Adoption Home Study,” Child Welfare 34, no. 3 (March 1955):20-21.


Helen Fradkin and Dorothy Krugman, “A Program of Adoptive Placement for Infants Under 3 Months,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 26, no. 4 (July 1956):577-590.1957


David Fanshel, A Study in Negro Adoption (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1957).


Margaret A. Valk, “Adjustment of Korean-American Children in Their American Adoptive Homes,” Casework Papers (1957):145-158.


Donald Brieland, An Experimental Study of the Selection of Adoptive Parents at Intake (New York: Child Welfare League of America, May 1959).


Child Welfare League of America, ed., Quantitative Approaches to Parent Selection (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1962).


Alfred Kadushin, “A Study of Adoptive Parents of Hard-to-Place Children,” Social Casework 43 (May 1962):227-233.


Helen L. Witmer et al, Independent Adoptions: A Follow-Up Study (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1963).


Child Welfare League of America, ed., Perspectives on Adoption Research (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1965).


Benson Jaffee and David Fanshel, How They Fared in Adoption: A Follow-Up Study (New York: Columbia University Press, 1970).


David Fanshel, Far From the Reservation: The Transracial Adoption of American Indian Children (Metuchen, NJ: The Scarecrow Press, 1972).


Lucille J. Grow and Deborah Shapiro, Black Children—White Parents: A Study of Transracial Adoption (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1974).


Joan F. Shireman and Penny R. Johnson, “Single Persons as Adoptive Parents,” Social Service Review 50 (March 1976):103-116.


Rita James Simon and Howard Alstein, Transracial Adoption (New York: Wiley, 1977).


William Meezan, Sanford Katz, and Eva Manoff Russo, Adoption Without Agencies: A Study of Independent Adoptions (New York: Child Welfare League of America, 1978).


Page Updated: 2-24-2012
Site designed by:

To learn more about The Adoption History Project, please contact Ellen Herman
Department of History, University of Oregon
Eugene, Oregon 97403-1288
(541) 346-3699
E-mail: adoption@uoregon.edu
About the Project and the Author
© Ellen Herman