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Friday, April 11, 2014

Adoption breakdowns

New research in the United Kingdom is helping us to better understand what is most likely to lead to an adoption breakdown. These are tragic situations for both sides. It means that the child is no longer really a member of the family that many had understood at the time of the adoption would be their "forever" family. It also means that parents, who had taken the step of committing to a child, now face the failure which brings with it shame and guilt. There is also a myriad of emotions for the siblings in the family. For those who continue to live in the family, there can also be a sense of relief that problems with the now departed adopted child are gone. This too brings guilt.



The UK study looked at over 37,000 adoptions over a 12 year period. The rate of breakdown was actually low - just over 3%. The breakdowns tend to occur more often in the teenage years, particularly if the adoption occurred after the child was 4 years old. Adopting a teenager was particularly risky for a breakdown.

Some breakdowns were avoided because of the tenacity and commitment of the families - they were just going to get through somehow.

A summary statement about the report is particularly helpful:

Of those children whose adoption placements had broken down, 91 per cent had witnessed domestic violence and 34 per cent had been sexually abused before they were adopted. Mental health problems were prevalent in the children who had left home, with 97 per cent scoring in the clinical range of mental health problems (compared to 10 per cent in the general population) and a quarter had been diagnosed with autistic behaviours.
Violence was a significant factor in the young person leaving their adoptive home in 80 per cent of cases, combined with involvement in crime, life threatening self-harm and running away. Of those interviewed, 27 per cent of parents reported worrying behaviour shown by their child around the use of knives. Services did not know how to respond when it was a young person being violent to a parent. (Source - Science Daily)

This helps to show that what goes on before adoption has real implications for the post adoption reality. It also helps us to see that, when it is clear that a biological parent will not be able to look after their child, that child protection should move towards permanency as quickly as possible with a view to finding a solution that fosters the well being of the child. Kinship care and adoption are options that can do both.

This report also reminds us of the needs for post adoption supports to aid families through the kinds of crisis that can arise as children mature and are faced with the impacts of their pre-adoptoin life.

If you want to read the full report click here

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