The danger to adoptees

Household Composition and Risk of Fatal Child Maltreatment

(Full text available at the site)


Objective. Approximately 2000 children die annually in the United States from maltreatment. Although maternal and child risk factors for child abuse have been identified, the role of household composition has not been well-established. Our objective was to evaluate household composition as a risk factor for fatal child maltreatment.
Methodology. Population-based, case-control study using data from the Missouri Child Fatality Review Panel system, 1992–1994. Households were categorized based on adult residents’ relationship to the deceased child. Cases were all maltreatment injury deaths among children <5 years old. Controls were randomly selected from natural-cause deaths during the same period and frequency-matched to cases on age. The main outcome measure was maltreatment death.
Results. Children residing in households with adults unrelated to them were 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children in households with 2 biological parents (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 8.8; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 3.6–21.5). Risk of maltreatment death also was elevated for children residing with step, foster, or adoptive parents (aOR: 4.7; 95% CI: 1.6–12.0), and in households with other adult relatives present (aOR: 2.2; 95% CI: 1.1–4.5). Risk of maltreatment death was not increased for children living with only 1 biological parent (aOR: 1.1; 95% CI: 0.8–2.0).
Conclusions. Children living in households with 1 or more male adults that are not related to them are at increased risk for maltreatment injury death. This risk is not elevated for children living with a single parent, as long as no other adults live in the home.

Risk of Suicide Attempt in Adopted and Non-Adopted Offspring


OBJECTIVE: We asked whether adoption status represented a risk of suicide attempt for adopted and nonadopted offspring living in the United States. We also examined whether factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior would mediate the relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt.
METHODS: Participants were drawn from the Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study, which included 692 adopted and 540 nonadopted offspring and was conducted at the University of Minnesota from 1998 to 2008. Adoptees were systematically ascertained from records of 3 large Minnesota adoption agencies; nonadoptees were ascertained from Minnesota birth records. Outcome measures were attempted suicide, reported by parent or offspring, and factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior including psychiatric disorder symptoms, personality traits, family environment, and academic disengagement.
RESULTS: The odds of a reported suicide attempt were ∼4 times greater in adoptees compared with nonadoptees (odds ratio: 4.23). After adjustment for factors associated with suicidal behavior, the odds of reporting a suicide attempt were reduced but remained significantly elevated (odds ratio: 3.70).
CONCLUSIONS: The odds for reported suicide attempt are elevated in individuals who are adopted relative to those who are not adopted. The relationship between adoption status and suicide attempt is partially mediated by factors known to be associated with suicidal behavior. Continued study of the risk of suicide attempt in adopted offspring may inform the larger investigation of suicidality in all adolescents and young adults.