Victor K. Groze and James A. Rosenthal's Single Parents and Their Adoptive Children: A Psychosocial Analysis is a study that compared adoptions completed by single versus two parents of special needs children. Children with special needs, accoring to Groze and Rosenthal, are those "older children, physically handicapped children, children of mixed or minority ethnicity, children who are members of a sibling group, and children with emotional or behavioral problems" (67).
The authors use a table to lay out for the reader the interesting findings in regard to the demographic of adopted children for single and two-parent homes. Something interesting to note when analyzing the demographics is that single parents were more likely to have adopted older children, children with special needs, and girls (70). The authors note, additionally, that "The finding that single parents more often adopt girls contrasts with previous reports...[It] should be considered in the context that most single parents (84%) are women and that single parents tend to adopt children of the same sex as themselves" (70). The table additionally shows that single parent families are more likely than two parent families to be comprised of children of minority races. What does this say about two parent families that they are less willing than single parents to adopt children of a minority race? What message does this send to society?
In terms of the children's emotional and behavioral functions, Groze and Rosenthal rated the children by utilizing the 113 behavior problems in the Child Behavior Checklist (CBC). They compared children who were utilizing mental health services of some kind "clinical group," and children who were not receiving any mental health treatment "nonclinical" (71). In both the single and two parent families, the percentage of adopted children in the clinical range exceeded the corresponding percentage of the nonclinical sample (72). The authors also noted that "differences between the special needs and sample and the nonclinical sample were modest among 4 to 5 year old children, but more pronounced among the 6-11 and 12-16 age groups" (72). It makes sense that the behavioral problems would be more prevalent in children who were older when they were adopted, as the children likely experienced less stability in their daily lives.
The study also examined the educational functioning of the children. An interesting finding, note the authors, is that "no significant differences between single-parent and two-parent families were found regarding attendance, grades, or enjoyment of school. Most children performed well in school and, according to parents' reports, enjoyed school" (73). In particular, this finding supports the idea that single parents are just as suited as two parents to assist in the intellectual development of their children.
The last area of functioning that the study covered was ecological, where the adoptive family was examined based on their use of mental health services. The authors state, "statistically significant differences in the number of in-person meetings with the social workers between one and two parent families were noted" (72). Interestingly, single parents reported fewer visits after being placed with their child than did two parent families. If both the educational data and the ecological data suggest that single parents are just as qualified (if not more) than two parent families to raise a special needs child, why, then, do some assert that singles are unfit to adopt a child?
Groze and Rosenthal discuss the possible reasons as to why single parents experienced fewer emotional and behavioral problems than did two-parent homes. "Perhaps the intensity of relating to two adults on an intimate basis results in more difficulties after placement than does having to relate to one adult caretaker" (74). Furthermore, the study also revealed that in regard to adoption smoothness, "although differences were noted in the child's emotional and behavioral functioning and in the social and ecological functioning of one and two parent families, no differences were found in their evaluation of adoption smoothness" (75). This further suggests that single parents are just as suited as two parent families to adopt a special needs child.
In conclusion, Groze and Rosenthal assert that new adoption policies, with the goal of securing permanent homes for children, should target such nontraditional candidates as single parents for adoption. Furthermore, the authors state "Singles make up a significant portion of the population and a number of single people are raising children on their own. Single adoptive parents are not only a feasible but an untapped resource to provide homes for children with special needs" (76).
Groze, V. K. "Single parents and their adopted children: A psychosocial analysis." Families in Society 72.2 (1991):130.