Pathfinder: Adoption & Foster Care

This research guide helps to locate information on adoption and foster care.

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

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

This will provide background information and identify potential keywords 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? (PDF). Retrieved from

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

Below are suggested subject headings for adoption or foster care in the library catalog may improve your search results:


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3. Find some general articles on your topic.

After you have located books on your topic, start looking for general journal articles on your subject. Several general databases include:

  • Academic Search Complete
    Subjects: most academic topics
    Formats: journals, magazines, newspapers, books, book reviews
    Publication dates: 1887-present
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Subjects: news, law, business
    Formats: newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, company profiles, court cases
    Publication dates: most are 1990s – present; court cases are 1789 – present
  • Article First (OCLC)
    Subjects: business, science, humanities, social sciences, medicine, technology, popular culture
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1990 – present
  • Summon
    Subjects: interdisciplinary
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings, newspapers, images, databases and more available at CWRU
    Publication dates: Ongoing
  • TOPICsearch
    Subjects: current events, social, political and economic issues, scientific discoveries
    Formats: journal articles, magazine articles, biographies, book reviews, government information, public opinion polls, international newspapers
    Publication dates: 1990 – present

These databases are interdisciplinary and most provide a mix of popular magazine articles and scholarly research articles.

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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.

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

  • Child Welfare Information Gateway
    Subjects: child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption
    Formats: print and electronic publications, websites, databases, and online learning tools
    Publication dates: 1927-present
  • ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
    Subjects: education
    Formats: journal articles, books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers
    Publication dates: 1966-present
  • Psychology & Behavioral Sciences Collection
    Subjects: psychology, psychiatry
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1930-present
  • PsycINFO / Historical PsycINFO
    Subjects: psychology and related disciplines
    Formats: journal articles, books, dissertations
    Publication dates: 17th century-present
  • Social Work Abstracts
    Subjects: addictions, aging, child and family welfare, community organization, homelessness, human services, mental health, therapy
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1965-present
  • SocINDEX
    Subjects: sociology, criminal justice, demography, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, marriage and family, religion, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, substance abuse, violence
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings
    Publication dates: 1895-present

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

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

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. Search the Internet for additional information.

Information located online can provide supplemental material to scholarly research articles. Websites should always be evaluated for currency, authorship, bias and accuracy.

Here are selected web sites with information on adoption and foster care:

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Statistical Information:

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. Note where you need to find more information if necessary.

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