Pathfinder: Adoption & Foster Care

The following Pathfinder is intended to step you through the basic library research process for identifying resources relating to the topic of Adoption & Foster Care.

Consult the Steps to Research and Writing a Paper for more detailed information.

References to book and journal titles are specific to items owned by the MSASS Harris Library, Case Western Reserve University libraries and EBSCOhost. The websites that are included at the end of the Pathfinder are intended as a starting point for research on the Internet and are not meant to be inclusive.

1. Start by locating resources that provide an overview of your topic.

This will help you define terms in that discipline and provide background information in your subject area. Encyclopedias, handbooks and subject specific dictionaries offer good places to start.

Some titles specifically related to adoption & foster care:

Babb, L. A., & Laws, R. (1997). Adopting and advocating for the special needs child: A guide for parents and professionals. Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Dickerson, J. L., & Allen, M. (2007). Adoptive and foster parent screening: A professional guide for evaluations. New York: Routledge.

Dickerson, J. L., Allen, M., & Pollack, D. (2011). How to screen adoptive and foster parents: A workbook for professionals and
. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Groza, V., & Rosenberg, K. F. (2001). Clinical and practice issues in adoption: Bridging the gap between adoptees placed as infants and as older children (Rev. and updated ed.). Westport, CT: Bergin & Garvey.

Hayslip, B., & Patrick, J. H. (Eds.). (2006). Custodial grandparenting: Individual, cultural, and ethnic diversity. New York: Springer Publishing Co.

Hushion, K., Sherman, S. B., & Siskind, D. (Eds.). (2006). Understanding adoption: Clinical work with adults, children, and parents. Lanham, MD: J. Aronson.

Kerman, B., Freundlich, M., & Maluccio, A. N. (Eds.). (2009). Achieving permanence for older children and youth in foster care. New York: Columbia University Press.

Krebs, B., & Pitcoff, P. (2006). Beyond the foster care system: The future for teens. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Lee, R. E., & Whiting, J. B. (Eds.). (2008). Foster care therapist handbook: Relational approaches to the children and their families. Arlington, VA: Child Welfare League of America Press.

Moe, B. A. (1998). Adoption: A reference handbook. Retrieved from

Orlans, M., & Levy, T. M. (2006).
Healing parents: Helping wounded children learn to trust & love.
Washington, DC: CWLA Press.

Pecora, P. … et al. (2010). What works in foster care?: Key components of success from the Northwest Foster Care Alumni Study. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Robbins, S. P., Chatterjee, P., & Canda, E. R. (2006). Contemporary human behavior theory: A critical perspective for social work (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson/A and B.

Rosenwald, M. A., & Riley, B. N. (2010). Advocating for children in foster and kinship care: A guide to getting the best out of the system for caregivers and practitioners. New York: Columbia University Press.

Silverstein, D. N. , & Smith, S. L. (Eds.). (2009). Siblings in adoption and foster care: Traumatic separations and honored connections. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Stolley, K. S., & Bullough, V. L. (Eds.). (2006). The Praeger handbook of adoption (Vols. 1-2). Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

Testa, M. F., & Poertner, J. (Eds.). (2010). Fostering accountability: Using evidence to guide and improve child welfare
. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2009). Intercountry adoption: Where do I start?
(Portable Document Format). Retrieved from

U. S. Government Accountability Office. (2009). Foster care: State practices for assessing health needs, facilitating service delivery, and monitoring children’s care. (Portable Document File). Retrieved from

Yngvesson, B. (2010). Belonging in an adopted world: Race, identity, and transnational adoption. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

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2. Search the online catalog for additional books that will give you the history, context, definitions and theories.

Define the terms that you want to use when you are doing a search for materials. If you do a subject search in the online catalog, the system limits you to using predefined Library of Congress Subject Headings. Click here for more information on doing a subject search.

Some subject headings for adoption or foster care (in alphabetical order):

  • Adopted children
  • Adoptees
  • Adoption
  • Adoption – Law and legislation – United States
  • Adoptive parents
  • Birthparents
  • Foster care
  • Foster children
  • Foster home care
  • Foster parents
  • Gay adoption
  • Intercountry adoption
  • Interracial adoption
  • Kinship care
  • Special needs adoption

Doing a keyword search will give you many more titles than a subject search and may help you focus the results. When you do a keyword search the system looks in the title, subject and table of contents fields. Click here for more information on doing a keyword search.

To do effective keyword searching, you will need to think of concepts and terms related to your topic. Consulting a thesaurus will help you find synonyms for concepts. Click here for a list of thesauri owned by the Harris Library.

You can do a key word search from this pathfinder. Enter your search terms just as you would from the keyword search menu in the online catalog and then click on “search.”

Search the Library Catalog for:


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3. Find some general articles on your topic.

After you have located books on your topic, you will want to look for general journal articles in your subject area. Case and OhioLINK offer several general databases. These include: Academic Search Complete, Lexis-Nexis Academic, Article First (OCLC), Social Sciences Index and TOPICsearch. These databases are interdisciplinary and most provide a mix of popular magazine articles and scholarly research articles. You can find these databases by choosing the Research Databases option in the Library Catalog. Note: Access is limited to authorized users.

TIP: When you search in general databases, you will sometimes retrieve citations to book reviews related to your topic. These book reviews may be helpful in leading you to book titles and/or authors in your area of interest.

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4. Search subject specific databases for more scholarly journal articles.

Once you have assembled general journal articles on your topic, you can begin focusing on scholarly research articles. Citations, abstracts and, sometimes, the full-text of journal articles are found in a variety of databases available through Case Western Reserve University and OhioLINK to authorized users.

Case and OhioLINK databases are available by clicking on Research Databases in the Library Catalog.

The World Wide Web also makes available a range of databases. Some of these require a subscription fee to be paid; others are free. Click here to view a list of selected databases available on the web that are related to social work and the social sciences.

Literature on adoption and/or foster care is found in many disciplines. Some of the databases that have articles on this topic include:

Academic Search Complete: Provides access to over 5,300 full-text journals, including peer reviewed English-language titles as well as full-text for many non-English. This is an excellent database to search for publications in criminal justice, sociology, and psychology. This database is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases.

Child Development & Adolescent Studies (1927-present) is available electronically through the Case Research Databases. “References current and historical literature related to the growth and development of children through the age of 21. Included are book reviews and abstracts from hundreds of journals, and a bibliography of thousands of technical reports, books, book chapters, theses and dissertations that cover the biomedical and social sciences worldwide.”–(Database description).

Family & Society Studies Worldwide (1970-present) is available electronically through the Case Research Databases. It is a core resource on family and gender related topics. It covers over 800,000 records drawn from journals, books, conference and working papers government reports, and websites in the social science disciplines. Citations from the Inventory of Marriage & Family Literature and the Australian Family & Society Abstracts are included.

LexisNexis: Available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. It provides current information by allowing access to domestic and international newspapers, trade journals and newsletters, and magazine articles. Full-text is available. Searches can be done by region or state by choosing the U. S. News category. The database also provides current articles related to the business, legal and medical fields. LexisNexis Academic – law review journals, court cases, statutes. LexisNexis Congressional – Congressional documents, bills and laws.

PsycINFO: Available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. The database indexes the world’s literature in psychology and related disciplines. The database has peer-reviewed research journals on many topics. It covers over 2000 journals as well as books, and individual book chapters. The coverage is from 1967 forward. This index corresponds to the printed publication Psychological Abstracts. PsycINFO Historical covers similar information between the years 1887-1966.

Social Work Abstracts is available electronically through the Case Research Databases list. It contains more than 45,000 records from 1700 social work related journals. Topics covered include service delivery, social work practice, homelessness, aging, child and family welfare, community organization, and substance abuse. The coverage is from 1977 to the present. This database corresponds with the printed publication Social Work Abstracts.

CAUTION: The setup will vary for different databases. In many databases if you type in a phrase the system will look for the exact phrase. It does not add an “and” between words. So if you type “urban poverty homeless” you will get zero results because it will look for those words in that exact order. It is often clearer to enter one term at a time and combine the end results.

TIP: Look in the descriptor field and/or use the online thesaurus to lead you to additional terms.

NOTE: Online databases are distributed nationally and are not specific to Case Western Reserve University. The University will not own all the journals that are cited in the
databases. Click here for information on finding journal titles in the online catalog.

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5. Browse current issues of journals that contain literature on your topic.

Click here for a list of journals to which the MSASS Harris Library subscribes.

Journals that are most likely to contain information on the topic of adoption and foster care include:

Adoption & Fostering online at: E-Journal Portal.

Adoption Quarterly online at: Taylor & Francis Online. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy online
at: E-Journal Portal.

Child & Adolescent Social Work Journal online at: OhioLINK. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Child Welfare online at: EBSCOhost Research Databases.
E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Family Planning Perspectives online at: Guttmacher Archive, JSTOR. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog) [Title changed to: Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health.]

Journal of Gay & Lesbian Social Services online at: Taylor & Francis Online. E-Journal Portal. Public catalog)

Journal of GLBT Family Studies online at: E-Journal Portal.

Journal of Marriage and Family online at: OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Journal of Marriage and the Family online at: JSTOR. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog) [Title changed to: Journal of Marriage and Family.]

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships online at: OhioLINK. E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health online at: Guttmacher Archive, JSTOR, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog) [Harris Library hardcopy discontinued]

Social Work online at: EBSCOhost Research Databases. E-Journal Portal. ( Public catalog).

Youth & Society online at: OhioLINK, Sage, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Additional journals that cover general topics in Sociology and social studies are available in the Electronic Journal Center and the
E-Journal Portal.

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6. Do a Web search on the Internet for additional information.

Information located through the Internet can provide supplemental material to scholarly research articles. Material retrieved from websites should always be evaluated for currency, authorship, bias and accuracy.

Following are selected web sites that might be helpful when looking for information on adoption and foster care:

Administration for Children & Families (ACF)

American Academy of Pediatrics

Child Welfare League of America (CWLA)

National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges

National Foster Care Coalition

National Foster Parent Association

National Resource Center for Adoption

North American Council on Adoptable Children

World Association for Children and Parents

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Statistical Information:

Adoption & Foster Care Statistics

Annie E. Casey Foundation

Foster Care Facts

Office of Head Start

7. Evaluate the information you have collected from books and articles.

Consult the bibliographies of the books and articles you have selected. This will lead you to additional references and authors to investigate. Make notes of the gaps in your literature so that you can use this information when you do additional searches. Click here for more information on evaluating the information you have collected.

Created by J. Hund & L. Burke (10/2010)

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