Domestic adoption failure, otherwise known as adoption disruption or dissolution, is on the rise in the United States. An incredibly painful experience for both parent(s) and child, adoption failure is best avoided at all costs. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at why adoptions can fail, as well as the parenting techniques that can help to prevent this.
What Causes Adoptions to Fail?
There are a variety of reasons why adoptions can fail such as:
- Age of child
- Emotional/behavioural issues
- Strong attachment to biological parents(s)
- Being an abuse victim pre-adoption
- Connection issues
- Lack of social support
- Unrealistic expectations
- Insufficient information on child
- Unprepared parent(s)
- Issues with caseworkers (common in domestic adoptions)
- Lack of support services
Factors specific to the child that is adopted can also come into play in regards to making an adoption challenging and potentially increasing the risk of failure such as:
- The child’s race
- Multiple-child adoption (siblings)
- Children who’ve experienced neglect/trauma
- Disabled children
- Older children or teens
- Children who have spent a large amount of time in care
Parenting Techniques That Can Help
There are some parenting techniques that adoptive parent(s) can take to help reduce the risk of their adoption failing. However, it is important to note that these sometimes may not be enough, and an adoption connection which may have seemed perfect on paper just isn’t the right fit in reality. Sometimes adoptive parents simply have to accept the connection isn’t working, particularly when it is doing more harm than good to the child.
- Learn your Child’s History: Before your child comes to live with you, find out as much information about the child and their history as possible. Learning about traumas and events in a child’s past can allow you to prepare and plan ways to overcome these, such as removing potential triggers and creating safe spaces, learning the correct parenting strategies to help your child feel comfortable and able to settle into your home.
- Keep them Close: Depending on the age of your adopted child this can mean a variety of different things. With babies and young children, keeping them close to your body, such as in a sling or putting an emphasis on times when a child can snuggle up with you can really help create a safe base for the child and allow them to become attached to you as a parent. In older children, simply being there can be enough, such as for play and a variety of bonding activities like visits to the park or storytime.
- Communication: If your adopted child is older, it is important to communicate with them. Listen to what they have to say and encourage them to express their thoughts and feelings. This will give you a snapshot of the childs’ mind and help you to learn things which may be upsetting them, as well as things they like that you can increase within your home to make them feel welcome and safe.
Most importantly, focus on your own parenting successes and not your failures. While reflection is important, it is imperative you don’t focus on the negatives or punish yourself as a result. No parent is perfect, and by being willing to learn, you can grow with your child as they settle into your home.