Parent 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 Parent experiences of adoption in the AIFS library catalogue

Family Connections and Contact Study: final report

University of Sydney. Institute of Open Adoption Studies
Sydney, N.S.W. : Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, 2019.
Under previous out of home care policy, child welfare case workers would help manage children's contact arrangements with their birth families in New South Wales. However, guardianship and open adoption are now prioritised over long-term foster care, and there is now an expectation that carers manage these contact arrangements without any agency support. This report investigates the benefits and challenges of contact for carers, children, and birth parents, and what supports are needed to help carers and birth parents overcome difficulties and have constructive and collaborative relationships. It presents findings from interviews with 12 birth parents, 19 children and young people, and 26 carers, including legal guardians, kinship carers, adoptive parents, and foster carers. It also considers the views of Aboriginal children and how well the transition from agency-supervised to carer-facilitated contact is progressing. The report concludes with the implications for case work.

Open adoption of children [in] NSW out-of-home care: foster carers' perceptions about the motivations and barriers

University of Sydney. Institute of Open Adoption Studies
Sydney, N.S.W. : Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, 2018.
This report explores foster parents' perceptions and motivations regarding adopting children from out-of-home care in New South Wales. 76 current foster carers completed surveys, with 30 carers also taking part in focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and views. Participants were asked about likelihood of considering adoption, perceived benefits of adopting a child from out of home care, need for informal and formal support, concerns about adoption, and managing birth family contact. This study follows on from a survey of the general public on their views of adoption, and is situated in light of the major shift in policy and legislation in New South Wales to decrease the number of children who remain in long-term foster care and instead prioritise kinship care, guardianship, and open adoption. While many foster carers reported that they would consider adoption, they also described many concerns and barriers. The main themes raised were: support needs of children; respect and autonomy for carers; availability of credible, reliable information; and relationships with birth families. The report begins with a brief review of the literature on the adoption policy and legal context in New South Wales and the factors influencing foster parents to adopt.

Open adoptions of children from foster care in New South Wales, Australia : adoption process and post-adoption contact.

del Pozo de Bolger A, Dunstan D and Kaltner M
Adoption Quarterly v. 21 no. 2 2018: 82-101
This article explores foster parents' experiences of adopting children in their care, focusing on their positive and negative experiences of adoption processes and the maintenance of birth family relationships. Interviews were conducted with 8 foster parents in New South Wales. The participants describe the personal and system factors that influenced their experiences and make recommendations for support and practice.

Open adoption of children in NSW out-of-home care: foster carers' perceptions [summary]

University of Sydney. Institute of Open Adoption Studies
Sydney, N.S.W. : Institute of Open Adoption Studies, University of Sydney, 2018.
This paper summarises the findings from a recent research study into foster parents' perceptions and motivations regarding adopting children from out-of-home care in New South Wales. 76 foster carers completed surveys, with 30 carers also taking part in focus groups to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences and views. Participants were asked about likelihood of considering adoption, perceived benefits of adopting a child from out of home care, need for informal and formal support, concerns about adoption, and managing birth family contact. This study follows on from a survey of the general public on their views of adoption, and is situated in light of the major shift in policy and legislation in New South Wales to decrease the number of children who remain in long-term foster care and instead prioritise kinship care, guardianship, and open adoption. While many foster carers reported that they would consider adoption, they also described many concerns and barriers.

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.

Speech and language development of intercountry adopted children aged 3 to 6 years : an explorative study of Australian parents' knowledge, beliefs, and experiences.

Golding S, Leitao S and Williams C
Adoption Quarterly v. 16 no. 1 Jan 2013: 40-61
This article explores intercountry-adoptive parents' knowledge, beliefs, and experiences about their children's speech and language development. Eleven parents who lived in Australia and adopted a child aged 3 to 6 years from an overseas country were surveyed regarding what they thought their children's experiences were before adoption, their thoughts on the parent role in children's speech and language development, and their efforts to learn more on this issue, seek help, and consult professionals.

'It's quite a journey' : Australian parents' experience of adopting older children from overseas orphanages.

Alessia K and Roufeil L
Children Australia v. 37 no. 4 Dec 2012: 161-169
Intercountry adoption, often of children post-infancy, is one way of forming a family in Australia. However, few studies have invited Australian parents who have incorporated older children into their family to tell their story. Fathers are under-represented in studies of parenting generally and adoptive parenting specifically. As part requirement for a clinical psychology dissertation, with ethics approval from the relevant university, 28 parents (13 fathers and 15 mothers) were interviewed about their experiences of adopting children over the age of 24 months from orphanages in China, Ethiopia, India and Thailand. Although parents' experiences and recollections were diverse, almost all parents had been confronted by difficult child behaviours, at least initially. Contrary to previous research, the child's gender, age or duration of institutional care did not appear related to parental experience. Six major themes emerged from parent interviews: (1) the long wait and intense emotions of adoption; (2) disparity between expectations and reality; (3) recognition of children's difficult past experiences; (4) parenting as a path to self-discovery; (5) the perception of needing to present as coping; and (6) unmet needs. Mothers blamed themselves for their children's behavioural problems, rather than attributing difficulties to children's previous adverse life events. Both mothers and fathers were reluctant to use support services because they felt scrutinised and feared repercussions, and those who sought assistance generally found professionals ill-informed and unhelpful. Parents made recommendations about how the adoptive parenting process could be improved and expressed a strong desire for more information, both pre- and post-placement.

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

Kenny P, Higgins D, Soloff C and Sweid R
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 4 no. 1 2012
This report presents the findings of the National Research Study on the Service Response to Past Adoption Practices. It examines 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. Many Australian Journal of Adoption readers would have participated in this study, which surveyed 1,528 participants - the majority adoptees - in addition to mothers, fathers, adoptive parents and other family members. The report is re-published here to offer wide exposure to the adoption community.

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.

Supporting direct contact after adoption

Neil E
London : BAAF, 2011.
The Adoption Research Initiative is exploring the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 in England and Wales. One aspect of this is support for post-adoption contact between adopted children and their birth family. This book presents findings from the study component exploring contact services in complex cases, where agencies hold an ongoing role in supporting the contact between family members. The study specifically examined the characteristics of families involved in complex cases, their experiences of direct contact arrangements, usage of support services, their experiences and satisfaction with services, and service costs, based on surveys with 51 adoptive parents and 39 birth relatives, including siblings and extended family members.

Helping birth families : services, costs and outcomes

Neil E
London : BAAF, 2010.
The Adoption Research Initiative is exploring the implementation of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 in England and Wales. This book presents findings from the second stage of the study, which focuses on the experiences and supports of birth relatives. It investigates referrals to support services and uptake, the experiences and impact of adoption on birth relatives, compulsory adoption, usage and experience of other supports, the impacts of support services, and their costs. The study drew upon statistics from support agencies and interviews with birth parents and grandparents.

Experiences of adoptive parents in Central Queensland: infertility, grief and the adoption journey

Newton M
2010.
This thesis explores the relationship between infertility, grief and the adoption experience. Drawing on interviews with parents in Central Queensland, it investigates what form grief takes during the adoptive parenting journey, if this grief manifested during the parenting process, and the factors that assisted in managing grief.

'It's quite a journey' : Australian parents' experience of adopting older children from overseas orphanages.

Alessia K
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 2 no. 2 2010: 293p
Over the past 30 years, intercountry adoption has become an increasingly popular means of family formation in Australia. Despite this, there are gaps in what is known about the experiences of Australian adoptive parents. Many of the children adopted into Australia from overseas are past infancy when they enter their new families, something that is associated with an increased risk of childhood problems and decreased parental satisfaction. Although many Australian parents have incorporated older children into their family, little is known of what this experience is like for parents as very few studies have invited parents to tell their story. Even less is known about the experience of adoptive fathers, as fathers are under-represented in studies of parenting generally and adoptive parenting specifically. This study aimed to go some way towards rectifying these omissions. Using the qualitative paradigm, 28 parents (13 fathers and 15 mothers) were interviewed about their experiences of adopting children over the age of 24 months from orphanages in China, Ethiopia, India and Thailand. Parents were invited to talk about any aspects of their experience. Although parents' experiences and recollections were diverse, almost all parents had been confronted by difficult child behaviours, at least initially. Contrary to previous research, gender of child, length of institutional care of child or age of child at placement did not seem related to parents' experience of parenting. From interviews with parents, six major themes emerged: the long wait and intense emotions of adoption; the disparity between experiences and expectations; understanding of children?s previous difficult life circumstances; parenting teaching about previously unrecognised aspects of self; parents' perception that they had to be seen to be coping; and unmet needs. Despite the challenges presented by their children, parents were reluctant to use support services because they perceived themselves to be scrutinised and feared repercussions if they did seek support. Mothers blamed themselves for their children's behavioural problems, rather than attributing difficulties to children's previous adverse life events. Although several parents did seek assistance, they generally found professionals ill-informed and unhelpful. Parents made a number of recommendations about how the process of adoptive parenting could be improved. They recommended the routine provision of a variety of services, including counselling for children, parents and couples. Parents expressed a strong desire for more information, both pre- and post-placement, including information about what types of problems to expect and what services to approach for help with these problems.

Adoption separation : then and now

Robinson E
Christies Beach, S. Aust. : Clova Publications, 2010.
This book explores the impact of adoptions on relinquishing mothers in the last century and the social and policy changes that have been taking place this century. Part one features the stories of relinquishing mothers from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Great Britain, and the United States. In their own words, they explain how they became pregnant, the pressures involved in their decision to adopt, the impact of this decision on their lives, and any contact with their child in adulthood. Part two considers recent changes in attitudes to adoption and unmarried motherhood, government recognition of the trauma of forced adoption practices, and how different countries manage adoptions today.

Maternal experiences of inter-country adoptions : implications and challenges : reflections on inter-country adoptions.

Mateljan L and Priddis L
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 2 no. 2 2010: 27p
The number of inter-country adoptions in Australia has tripled over the last 25 years and research into the experiences of those parents, children, and families involved has failed to keep pace. Research from the field indicates that inter-country adoptees are vulnerable for a range of emotional, behavioural, psychological and social issues across the lifespan. One emerging protective factor is the capacity of the parent to reflect on both their own internal world and that of their infants. It has also been suggested that the unique transitional process to adoptive parenthood impacts on the adopted child's adjustment to adoption. This paper reports the findings of a recent West Australian qualitative study in which 20 mothers of inter-country adopted children whose average age at adoption was 12 months were interviewed. The Parent Development Interview modified for use with adoptive parents and an interview about the adoption process provided opportunity for qualitative analysis of the nature and quality of maternal reflections. Results are discussed in the context of implications for those working to improve the emotional world of adopted children and their families. Limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are made.

Psychosocial correlates of parenting stress in Australian parents with a daughter adopted from China.

Fick M and McMahon C
Australian Journal of Adoption v. 1 no. 2 2009: 30p
In the context of a recent dramatic increase in the proportion of inter-country vs. domestic adoptions in Australia, this study aimed to examine parental functioning in Australian parents who have adopted a child from China and to examine parent, child and contextual correlates of parenting stress. Fifty-eight parents of children aged between 2 and 8 years were recruited via online support groups for Australian inter-country adoptive parents. Parent attachment style, coping style and social support were significantly associated with parenting stress, while child age at adoption and pre-adoptive care history, and parental age, marital status and level of education were not. The strongest predictors of parenting stress were a dismissing attachment style and reactive and suppressive coping styles, which together accounted for 48.7 % of the variance. Adding to the existing body of research documenting positive adjustment in adoptive parents, the adoptive parents in this sample were found to function at least as well as, and on some measures, more optimally than parents in normative samples. Implications of these findings are discussed, together with recommendations for clinical practice and future research.

Families of choice: a qualitative study of Australian families formed through intercountry adoption

Young A
2009.
This thesis explores the experiences of Australians who choose to form families through intercountry adoption. It discusses the context of fertility and adoption in Australia, reasons for choosing intercountry adoption, how families formed through adoption see themselves, inter-family relationships and parenting, globalisation, and how other families and other countries view intercountry adoption.

The psychic disequilibrium of adoption : stories exploring links between adoption and suicidal thoughts and actions.

Gair S
Australian e-Journal for the Advancement of Mental Health (AeJAMH) 1446-7984 v. 7 no. 3 Nov 2008 10p
Past literature has identified mental health issues for adopted people. Equally, research reveals that birth parents have ongoing mental health issues related to adoption grief that increases rather than decreases over time. Limited literature explores links between adoption and suicidal thoughts and behaviours. This exploratory study aimed to provide a space for narratives describing perceived links between adoption and suicide to be aired. Narratives from a purposive sample of 20 participants revealed six themes in relation to the study focus: reality denied, prescribed self, powerlessness, suicidal logic, suicide and turning points. A theoretical discussion is developed in relation to the findings, drawing on Girard's concept of sacrificial violence, Butler's notion of performativity, and Kierkegaard's notion of pathology of spirit.

Releasing the past : mothers' stories of their stolen babies

Cole C
Yagoona, N.S.W. : Sasko Veljanov, 2008.
The state government inquiry into past adoption practices in New South Wales, 'Releasing the Past: Adoption Practices 1950-1998' made a recommendation that funding should be provided for mothers to collect, collate, edit and publish comprehensive accounts of their adoption experiences. This book is the product of that recommendation. It describes the service procedures that were supposed to take place when unwed mothers gave birth, and what in fact really happened. The stories of the birth mothers describe a culture of adoption, the illusion of choice for unwed mothers, and the justifications used by workers to separate mothers and their babies.

Adopting overseas : a guide to adopting from Australia, plus personal stories that will inspire you.

Burns L and Burns A
Double Bay, N.S.W. : Rockpool Publishing, 2007.
This book is a resource for people considering adopting a child from overseas. It includes chapters on the history and statistics of overseas adoption in Australia; laws and the assessment process; child development and child rearing issues; travel advice; government contacts and support groups; and a bibliography of further reading. The book features personal stories from parents on their feelings and experiences of the adoption process, and the reactions of their new child.

Safeguarding the rights and well-being of birthparents in the adoption process

Smith S
New York : Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, 2007.
The primary objective of this study was to learn as much as possible about the birthparents of adopted children in order to determine how laws, policies and professional practices affect them; what essential rights they should be afforded; and what reforms are needed to optimise their well-being. It found that contemporary relinquishing parents want to help choose their children's new parents through profiling, to meet the adoptive parents, and to have ongoing contact with or knowledge about their children's circumstances. The primary factor in achieving lower levels of grief, adjustment and peace of mind in birthparents is knowledge about their children's well-being.

Long term outcomes of losing a child through adoption: the impact of disenfranchised grief.

Robinson E
Grief Matters v. 10 no. 1 Autumn 2007 8-11
When 'Disenfranchised Grief: Recognizing Hidden Sorrow' (Doka, 1989) was published, it was hailed as a groundbreaking work, and clarified for the first time the many ways in which grieving a loss other than death can be complicated. The author of the current article wrote her first book after reading about the concept of disenfranchised grief and recognising its relevance to the long-term outcomes for family members separated by adoption. This article explore the ways in which the concept of disenfranchised grief can apply to mothers who have been separated from their children by adoption.

Participation and decision making in older age adoption.

Cox E, Moggach L and Smith T
Developing Practice: The Child, Youth and Family Work Journal no. 19 Winter/Spring 2007 16-24
The Barnardos Find-a-Family program specialises in placing in adoption children who have been removed from their families, have experienced abuse or neglect and have had multiple placements. In 2003, Find-a-Family undertook a survey of families who had adopted children through the program during the previous 10 years. A questionnaire asked the families and adopted children about: their experience of involvement in decision making and matching family and child; experience with Barnardos and its workers; early experiences and reflections on the initial period of placement; and recent and current views on the relationship between parents and child. Respondents were positive about the value of involving children and prospective parents in decision making and trying to ensure a good match.

Talking about adoption in elementary school.

Brown J
Adoption Australia Winter 2006 28-30
The author of this article, the mother of a nine year old trans racially adopted child, explains why she chose to talk to her daughter's school class about adoption. She discusses the attitudes of her daughter's peers prior to addressing the class, and the reaction of the children and parents when she did speak to the class.

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."

Outcomes for children born of A.R.T. in a diverse range of families

McNair R
Melbourne, Vic. : Victorian Law Reform Commission, 2004.

Ever after : fathers and the impact of adoption.

Coles G
Christies Beach, S. Aust. : Clova Publications, 2004.
This book explores the impact on men of losing a child to adoption. The author himself was persuaded to abandon both the mother and their child while a young man in New Zealand, which has had a profound effect on his life. He describes his personal experiences in detail, including his decision to be a father and contact the mother and their now grown son. Using both his own story and the stories of other fathers, the author looks at the effect of men on the decision to relinquish a child, the repercussions of adoption on men, identifying as being a father, and the healing journey.

Bringing over baby.

Susskind A
The Bulletin 8 Jun 2004 30-32
Why do Australians give so much attention to IVF as a response to infertility and none to international adoption? The author discusses her experience of adopting an African baby, her intentions, the challenges and bonuses, the Australian mindset against international adoption and the difficulties of the process.

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.

Adoptive mothers' attitudes to contact : highlights from an Australian study.

Gair S
Adoption and Fostering v. 23 no. 3 Oct 1999: 38-47
This article explores the issue of contact and reunion from adoptive parents' perspective, including their coping positions or attitudes. It draws on interviews with adoptive mothers in Queensland from a larger research project.
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