Families in the twenty-first century are increasingly diverse, with respect to sociodemographics, family structure, and parenting tasks, raising questions for social science researchers about variations in parenting processes across different kinds of families. Adoptive families, historically a nontraditional family system, are becoming increasingly common, and like families in general, more diverse. In this chapter, we examine current challenges faced by adoptive parents and parenting processes that shape children’s development and adjustment.

We begin with a discussion of contemporary trends in adoption practice, including new contextual realities that help shape adoption practices, characteristics of children and parents united through adoption, and pathways to adoptive family life. We then turn to examine common adoptive parenting processes and common challenges across adoptive families, with a focus on adoption socialization—the processes through which parents facilitate relationships, communicate about adoption, and promote identity formation and adjustment in the adoptive family. Unique challenges and adoptive parenting processes are discussed next, which include experiences faced by adoptive parents rearing children amidst racial or cultural differences within the family, by sexual minority parents, and by parents rearing children with special needs. In the final section of the paper, we consider how parenting processes enable adoption to serve as a protective function and discuss adoption services as a critical support for adoptive parenting.