Erin Nichting 2015

Psychological Instruments in Adoption Evaluations: Instrument Selection Implications for the Forensic Field

Erin Nichting, Psy.M., Allison Fernander, Psy.D., Gokce Durmusoglu, Ph.D., and Michelle S. Schultz, Psy.D.
Wright State University

A significant amount of children are adopted each year both within the United States and internationally. However, research is lacking in many areas of the adoption process. One area includes an absence of knowledge in regards to adoption evaluations, even though they may be required for both prospective parents and adoptive children. Another area includes how often adoption evaluations are sent to specific referral sources, such as the justice system. Finally, there is a lack of research regarding how psychological instruments are incorporated into these evaluations. 38 licensed psychologists who have experience evaluating prospective parents and adoptive children were surveyed to better understand the components of psychological evaluations in the adoption field. Results indicated that 40.5% of respondents sent their completed evaluations to a judge or the justice system. Of those respondents, the most often used instrument was the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2. It was also found that many psychologists who sent their evaluations to the justice system used projective measures, with 20% using the Rorschach, 20% using the Thematic Apperception Test, 13.3% using Sentence Completions, and 13.3% using the Roberts Apperception Test for Children, Second Edition. This finding raises questions as to whether evaluations using projective measures meet the Daubert Standard and are thus admissible in court. Future areas of research are suggested in order to investigate this concern.

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