Large Families

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large families

Some adoptive parents have very large families, at least in terms of U.S. averages.

Those who believe some of these large families are not healthy describe adoptive parents in such large families as "child collectors" and believe that the children do not receive adequate individual attention. Scattered media stories of rare cases of children in large families feed this viewpoint.

Supporters believe the children provide each other with a great deal of attention and a large family can be particularly nurturing for a child with SPECIAL NEEDS.

Sometimes a family is large because it adopts four or more siblings. Researchers and social workers Dorothy LePere, Lloyd Davis, Janus Couve and Mona McDonald studied adoptions of large sibling groups and reported their findings in the booklet Large Sibling Groups: Adoption Experiences. The majority (87%) of the siblings studied were adopted together in groups of three or more children.

According to the researchers, parents with experience are good candidates for becoming well-functioning adoptive parents. "Those who are already parenting four or more children, or who have come from large families of origin, seem to have fewer adjustment problems."

Researchers noted that families who adopt large sibling groups sometimes cannot depend on their extended family or friends for support and should have the capacity to develop new support systems.

The authors concluded that large families can work effectively and stated, "The results of the questionnaire and the authors' research and experiences have demonstrated that the adoption of a large sibling group is rewarding and challenging both for the family and for the adoption worker."


Dorothy W. LePere, A.C.S.W., Lloyd E. Davis, A.C.S.W., Janus Couve, A.C.S.W., and Mona McDonald, A.C.S.W., Large Sibling Groups: Adoption Experiences (Washington, D.C.: Child Welfare League of America, 1986).

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