Child experiences of adoption

The latest material added to the Australian Institute of Family Studies library database is displayed, up to a maximum of 30 items. Where available online, a link to the document is provided. Many items can be borrowed from the Institute's library via the Interlibrary loan system.

See more resources on Child experiences of adoption in the AIFS library catalogue

Speaking out about family separation: the views of children and young people with experience of adoption in WA

Western Australia. Office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People
Subiaco, WA : Commissioner for Children and Young People WA, 2019.
This report explores children and young people's views on adoption processes in Western Australia, including their experiences of being adopted, the challenges of being adopted, determining the best interests of a child, participation in decision making, and access to information. Consultations were held with 17 young people aged 8-22 years old. These findings provide perspectives on the recommendations of the 2018 review into the Adoption Act 1994, which had been developed without the input of children and young people. All of the children and young people consulted reported having had positive experiences of adoption, and highlighted the importance of having safe, nurturing families, who respected their wishes and views and were open and honest about the adoption. Now with the input of adopted children and young people themselves, the Commissioner can state his overall support of the recommendations put forward in the review, though with some recommendations and encouragement for further consultations with children and young people.

Identity formation in children and young people in open adoptions from out-of-home care in New South Wales, Australia.

Luu B, de Rosnay M, Wright A and Tregeagle S
Adoption Quarterly v. 21 no. 2 2018: 120-139
This article explores identity development in children and young people who were adopted by their foster carers. Interviews were conducted with 9 young people aged 9-3 years old in New South Wales, who had experienced open adoption with court-ordered face-to-face contact with birth families. Their stories highlight the positive role of adoption security and openness in identity development.

Beyond the adoption order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruptions

Selwyn J, Wijedasa D and Meakings S
London : Dept. for Education, 2014.
This report investigates how often and why adoptions are disrupted - or break down - after an adoption order has been made in England. Drawing on data from local authorities and interviews with adoptive parents, children, and social workers, it aims: to establish the rate of adoption disruption post-order and how long after the making of the order disruption had occurred; to investigate the associated factors; and to explore the experiences of those involved. The report concludes with recommendations on how this disruption might be prevented.

Growing up with an adopted sibling : a retrospective study of the resident children's experiences.

Nel L
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 8 no. 2 2014: 74p
The changing nature of family structures means that it is becoming common for families to have a combination of biological and non-biological children living together. This thesis investigates the experiences of the resident 'child' growing up with an adopted sibling. A descriptive qualitative analysis was used to analyse the data from four semi-structured interviews. Eight topical areas are investigated: the nature of the sibling relationship, the changes when adoptee arrived, feeling blessed or resentful, discussion around upcoming adoption, having a 'chosen' sibling, reasons for adoption, ordinal position and parental treatment. Implications for families, limitations and future research possibilities are discussed. The findings from this study will add to the very limited literature on growing up with an adopted sibling.

Past adoption experiences : National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices

Kenny P, Higgins D, Soloff C and Sweid R
Melbourne, Vic. : Australian Institute of Family Studies, 2012.
This report presents the findings of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices. It complements the recent Senate inquiry into the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, by examining the past and current support needs of people affected by past adoption practices in Australia, including adopted persons, mothers, fathers, adoptive parents, and other family members. Drawing on large-scale quantitative surveys and interviews, the study investigated the circumstances of the participants' pregnancy and adoption, the impact of separation and adoption, disclosure of adoption, search and contact, services and supports used over time, and current needs. Interviews with service providers were also included. The study aims to increase the evidence available to governments to address the current needs of individuals affected by past adoption practices, including information, counselling, search and contact services, and other supports.

Adoption, attachment, and relationship concerns: a study of adult adoptees.

Feeney J, Passmore N and Peterson C
Personal Relationships v. 14 no. 1 Mar 2007 129-147
This study examines the extent to which adoption is a risk factor for later insecure attachment in adulthood, and whether this is affected by parent bonding or reunions with birth parents. 144 adult adoptees and 131 non-adoptees were surveyed on insecurity, anxiety, parental bonding, and any reunion experiences. The study found that though adoptees had high levels of insecurity, attachment was more important than adoptive status in predicting relationship variables, and had a mediating effect on some of the adoptees traits. The results support the usefulness of attachment thoery in understanding the relationship concerns of adoptees.

About adoption: a children's view report

Morgan R
Newcastle upon Tyne England : Office of the Children's Rights Director, 2006.
Written for young people, this report collates children and young people's views on being adopted. 206 adopted young people in Great Britain aged from 6 to 22 were surveyed on their experiences, feelings, new families, contact with birth families, information access, services, wellbeing, and what difference being adopted makes. This report includes the young people's suggestions for improving services and processes, and will also be sent to the Government and service agencies.

The girl in the mirror

Benevolent Society of New South Wales. Post Adoption Resource Centre.
Bondi, NSW. : Post Adoption Resource Centre, c2006.
Eight adopted teenagers talk about their experiences of adoption. They discuss aspects such as growing up in a family to whom they are not biologically related, growing up in a culture different from the one they were born into, how being adopted affects relationships within the adoptive family, and discovering their identity without knowing their birth parents.

The adoption triangle revisited : a study of adoption, search and reunion experiences

Triseliotis J, Feast J and Kyle F
London : BAAF, 2005.
"Based on the experiences of 93 adoptive parents, 93 birth mothers, 126 adopted people and a small sample of birth fathers, this book presents the findings of a study that took place in early 2000, providing a comprehensive picture of the adoption experience and the impact and outcome of the search and reunion process for all the key players."

Foster children : where they go and how they get on

Sinclair I
London : Jessica Kingsley, 2005.
This book analyses the outcomes of a large-scale study of fostered and adopted children in the UK. The 596 children were first contacted in 1998 and this study takes up the story from 1999-2001, focusing on the foster "career" of children, whether some kinds of placements had better outcomes than others, and what outcomes were achieved.

I remember the first time I went into foster care - it's a long story ...: children, permanent parents, and other supportive adults talk about the experience of moving from one family to another.

O'Neill C
Journal of Family Studies v. 10 no. 2 Oct 2004 205-219
This article, based on a longitudinal research project on support in permanent placements, explores how children experience alternative family care. Themes associated with roles, boundaries, power, support and the impact of the past were derived from the study. They are illustrated through what the children say about their experiences, as well as through the words of adults who are close to them. The implications of these findings for children, permanent families, and professionals are discussed.

Safe contact? : children in permanent placement and contact with their birth relatives

Macaskill C
Lyme Regis : Russell House Publishing, 2002.
This book reviews the experiences and logistics of contact between adopted or fostered children and their birth families, based on research on children and adoptive parents in England. It discusses preparations and planning for reunion, supervised and unsupervised contact, support and review.

Jumping at opportunities : older age adoption.

Barnardo's Australia.
Sydney : Barnados Australia, 2002
This video features several young adults who were adopted as older children through the Barnardos Find a Family program. They discuss their early history and reflect on their experiences in care, the impact of abuse, rejection and separation, and their attitudes towards their adoption. The video is intended as a training resource for carers and those working in adoption and permanent care.

Not your 'real' parents.

McCurdy D
Adoption Australia Autumn 1999 15-16
Suggestions are provided in this article to enable adoptive parents and teachers to help adopted children feel fully a part of their families. These involve: working on the problem of language; keeping the birth parents' role in the past; and speaking positively about adoption as one good way that children come to parents.

Why wasn't I told? Making sense of the late discovery of adoption.

Perl L and Markham S
Bondi, NSW : Post Adoption Resource Centre, Benevolent Society of NSW, 1999
This document describes a project which examined the effects of late discovery on adopted adults, based on a survey of people who had contacted the Post Adoption Resource Centre (PARC), a service of the Benevolent Society of NSW. The background to the study is outlined and the methodology discussed. The questionnaire and consent letter are presented in the appendices. Results are discussed with reference to: how the sample found out about the adoption; initial reaction; previous suspicions; informing the adoptive parents of the discovery; some reasons for never telling the adoptive parents; the effect on adoptive family relationships; contact with the birth family; impact of the reunion; late discovery as an ongoing issue; better not to know; a suitable age to tell; and advice for other late discovery adoptees.

A follow-up study of Filipino children adopted by Victorian, Australian families.

Picton C, Samonte A and Anderson S
Asia Pacific Families: APFAM Journal v. 1 no. 1 Jul 1999 29-31,36-51
The researchers in this study followed up a group of children, adopted from the Philippines, by Victorian families in order to gauge outcomes. A cross section of families and children who had been with their families for varying lengths of time were interviewed. To place the study in both the Australian and international contexts, the literature is reviewed, raising issues of: the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child; adoption by Australian parents of Vietnamese children; Indonesian adoptees; Korean children in Western Australia; behavioural problems; cultural identity; and adjustment. The characteristics of the participants are described and the results of the study are discussed, presenting observations of children from nine months to 19 years of age. Acknowledgement of culture was an indicator of positive outcomes in intercountry adoption, as well as positive interaction in family relationships and activities.

The essence of story.

Grafen M
In: Parenting in the 90's and beyond: dealing with the difficult issues: conference papers: 3rd National Conference on Parenting, Melbourne, February 1998. Melbourne, Vic: Parenting Australia, 1998, p125-139
Three presentations at a workshop titled the 'Essence of story' are included. The first author tells her own personal story as an adoptee who has had a relationship with her natural mother for the last six years, and illustrates some of the underlying issues that are particularly pertinent to adopted people, especially adolescents. The second author discusses some of the issues she deals with in her work at VANISH, the Victorian Adoption Network for Information and Self Help, with a focus on issues for the natural parent, and adolescent adoptees. The third author, also from VANISH, concentrates on two main aspects of adoption and adolescence: connection with the adolescent's birth family, which is an important part of the adolescent's identity; and the potential difficulties for the caregiving parents when the child joins the family at an older age (over 5 years) from a background of disruption and abuse.

From Scotland by emigration to Australia and where're we roam.

Mowat E
In: Separation, reunion, reconciliation: proceedings from the Sixth Australian Conference on Adoption, Brisbane, June 1997. Stones Corner, Qld: Janice Benson for the Conference Committee, 1997, p460-490
This paper describes how reunions are brought about in the relatively open adoption system operating in Scotland. In Scotland, an adopted person aged 16 years or over is entitled to a copy or extract of his/her original birth certificate. Adoption law in Scotland since 1930 is explained. The author describes more recent legislative changes affecting adoption counselling and tracing services. The development of Family Care, a family support service established in Edinburgh in 1911 is discussed. Birthlink, set up by Family Care in 1982 provides post-adoption counselling and support to adopted people, birth parents and adoptive families, and a service to social workers working in the adoption field. Birthlink operates an Adoption Contact Register for Scotland. Included are the personal stories and reunion stories from the relinquishing mother's perspective and the perspective of adoptees, and stories of searches for genetic relatives.

Loss, adoption and desire.

Durey J
In: Separation, reunion, reconciliation: proceedings from the Sixth Australian Conference on Adoption, Brisbane, June 1997. Stones Corner, Qld: Janice Benson for the Conference Committee, 1997, p101-115
The author, an adoptee, describes her long search for her Welsh birth mother. Her birth mother died, however, before they could meet. The author explores the various levels at which the body remembers adoption. The birth mother remembers carrying her child, giving birth and then the pain of relinquishment. The adopting parents remember the pain of infertility and the fear of losing their adopted child to the birth parents. The search and reunion stirs up many emotions in the adoptee which may or may not be in tune with how the birth mother feels. The author's exploration of the emotions and memories of adoption are enriched by her use of art. She states that the creative processes can be used to open communication about adoption. There is a lack of language in our culture about the relationships in adoption.

Family as constructed by an adoptee after contact with birth family: preliminary analysis.

Moloney A
In: Separation, reunion, reconciliation: proceedings from the Sixth Australian Conference on Adoption, Brisbane, June 1997. Stones Corner, Qld: Janice Benson for the Conference Committee, 1997, p67-81
This paper reports on the early findings of a study into the meaning of family constructed by adoptees and how these constructions are altered after contact has been made with the birth parent(s). The author looks at how biological and social definitions of family are constructed and contested in these settings. Adults who were adopted as babies between 1935 - 1975 were participants in the study. Data was drawn from in-depth interviews conducted with volunteers and a focus group held with interviewees and other interested adoptees.

The adolescent life stage for adoptees and their families.

Ainsworth P
Counselling Across Australia Newsletter Apr 1996 5-8
Adoptees and their families face additional life stage tasks and issues throughout adolescence. The nature and intensity of emotions associated with adoption can prolong the passage through normal developmental stages for up to two years. In this article the author explores issues for adolescent adoptees. These include: identity; self-esteem; autonomy and competence; attachment dilemmas and fear of abandonment; and facing grief and loss.

Intercountry adoptive families in Western Australia: the well being of their 4-16 year old adoptees.

Adoption Australia Autumn 1995 12-14
This article reports on the completed study on the well being of 4 - 16 year old intercountry adopted children in Western Australia. The article provides a brief overview of the study, including the research questions, a profile of the families, parents and children who participated, and a summary of the major findings.

Exposing adoption myths: access to information about origins in Victoria.

McPhee G and Webster M
Australian Journal of Social Issues v. 28 no. 2 May 1993 142-157
Victoria was the first state to allow adopted persons unqualified access to their original identity and to provide natural parents and others with conditional access to identifying information. This article examines findings from 1985 to 1988 to examine four assumptions. These are that: few adoptees would want to know about or meet their natural parents and so few would register with the Adoption Information Service; few adoptees would welcome an approach from or on behalf of their natural parents and most would reject such an approach; few relinquishing parents would wish to meet or know about their relinquished child and consequently most would reject an approach by or on behalf of their child; and adoptive parents would not wish to acknowledge the adoptive status of their children by providing information to the natural parent facilitating a meeting between the natural parent and the child. The data suggest that the above assumptions do not reflect the experience or behaviour of adopted persons, natural parents or adoptive parents.

Transracial adoption in Australia.

Harvey I
Adoption and Fostering v. 6 no. 1 1982 43-49
This article provides a limited summary of some of the major findings and implications from the author's published MA(Hons) thesis, 'Australian parents for Vietnamese children: a social- psychological study of inter-country adoption in Australia' (1981). In the developed world the possibility of adoptions by suitable couples of abandoned, unwanted, destitute or orphan children of a different race in the Third World has raised again the ethics and advisability of adopting children away from their own cultures. It is instructive, therefore, to consider some of the origins of, opposition to, and reasons for growth of, intercountry and transcultural (or transracial) adoption, before briefly reporting some of the more significant findings of a major study of the transracial adoption by Australian parents of Vietnamese children. The article focuses on the outcome of the adoptions, the adjustment and development of the adopted children and some implications of the research.

Adopted persons in search of their origin: review of research.

Kraus J
Australian Social Work v. 35 Jun 1982 3-6
Reviews the literature on the topic of adopted persons seeking information about their genealogy. Findings reported on include numbers involved, characteristics, reasons given for wanting information, what type of information is sought, and attitudes towards reunion of adoptees, natural parents and adoptive parents. Concludes that in the light of all the evidence, it would appear that the adoptees' search for their origins could be viewed as adaptive behaviour leading them to a better and more stable emotional adjustment and personality integration.

Adoption: new research, new attitudes.

Alderton E
Australian Women's Weekly 25 Mar 1981 8-9
Three thousand readers of the Australian Women's Weekly responded to a study undertaken by the University of New South Wales and the Australian Women's Weekly. Seventy-two per cent of respondents favoured the proposition that authorities should promote contact between adopted children and their natural parents if either made a request. This reflects a change from the attitude of adoption authorities which have held that it was better for all parties concerned if natural parents and adopted children knew as little as possible about each other.
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