National Adoption Attitudes Survey

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A Commentary

When Dave Thomas, the founder of Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers, created the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, it was because, as an adopted child, he had a personal interest in assuring homes for children. But he went a step further and insisted that the Foundation apply a laser like focus on the most special of children - the children in America's foster care systems who are waiting for loving, permanent, adoptive homes.

Two years ago the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption embarked on an intensive organizational strategic planning process. We wanted to effectively accelerate our efforts toward the mission of dramatically increasing the adoptions of children out of the foster care system while working to realize Dave's vision of a safe, nurturing and permanent home for every child. We fervently believe that no child is unadoptable, yet we needed to know why children existed in great numbers without permanent families

From that strategic plan that we identified the need to assess the national temperature of American attitudes toward adoption and in particular, foster care adoption. By better understanding American attitudes and perceptions about foster care adoption, it was our belief that we could craft an effective national adoption awareness campaign, while driving enhanced agency practices and impacting national policy on behalf of the most vulnerable of children and families.

The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption commissioned Harris Interactive to complete a National Adoption Attitudes Survey. A significant number of Americans, with an oversampling of Hispanic and African Americans, were interviewed about their adoption perceptions and attitudes. The results of this survey have given us cause for great hope.

Through the National Adoption Attitudes Survey we learned that nearly 40 percent of Americans have at some point considered adoption. That translates into more than 80 million adults. If we can inform, educate and support only a small percentage of these 80 million adults to move from thought to action, no child will grow up without a forever family.

We learned that there has been an increase in very favorable opinions about adoption. Sixty-three percent of Americans think very favorably about adoption, and 64 percent have a close experience with adoption.

We learned that 78 percent of Americans believe the country should be doing more to encourage adoption and 95 percent think adoptive parents should receive the same maternity and paternity benefits from employers as biological parents.

And we have learned about commonly held foster care adoption misperceptions - including cost, long-term behavioral development of adopted children and birth parent return - that can be dispelled.

The National Adoption Attitudes Survey is rich with information that will translate into action on behalf of children. There is cause for hope in the world of adoption and it is time to share that hope. We can move children out of foster care and into loving families and permanent homes, and we are committed to working with all of our national partners so that no child has to wait. It is not only the mission of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, it is our indefatigable responsibility.

Rita Soronen
Executive Director
Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption
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