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Preventing and Dealing With Adoption Disruptions and Dissolutions

a birthmother suffering from post-partum depressionWhether domestic or international, adoption disruption or dissolution can be an upsetting reality for many hopeful parents and children each year. In this article we’ll be taking a closer look at the causes of such events, and how you can prevent or come to terms with this happening.

What is Adoption Disruption?

Adoption disruption occurs when the adoption process ends after the child is already placed in their adoptive home, but before the adoption has been legally finalized. This will result in the child entering foster care, or being placed with alternate adoptive parents.

What is Adoption Dissolution?

Adoption dissolution occurs when the legal relationship between adopted child and adoptive parents is either voluntarily or involuntarily severed. This occurs after the child has been legally adopted and will result in the child leaving their adoptive parents’ home and enter foster care or be placed with alternate adoptive parents.

Why do Adoptions Become Disrupted?

There can be many reasons why adoptions may become disrupted such as;

  • The adopted child’s age
  • Emotional and behavioural issues
  • The child’s strong attachment to their biological mother/father
  • Being a victim of abuse (pre-adoption)
  • Being matched to the parent and not their foster parent
  • Lack of social support (particularly from relatives of adoptive parents)
  • Unrealistic expectations (in regards to the parent’s expectations for the adopted child)
  • Insufficient information on the child or their history
  • Poor parent preparation
  • An excess of case workers working the adoption case (which can often occur in domestic adoptions)
  • Lack of sufficient support services

There can also be factors specific to the child, their unique circumstances, or the family they have been placed with that can increase the potential for adoption disruption. The most common factors are as follows:

  • African American children have a higher risk of adoption disruption
  • Two or three children that are placed together
  • Children who have experienced abuse
  • Children with disabilities
  • Older children/teens
  • Children who have experienced neglect
  • Children who have spent a large amount of time in care institutions

Why do Adoptions Dissolve?

Adoptions can dissolve due to any of the above reasons or factors. While a fair amount of study has been given to the cause of adoption disruption, when it comes to adoption dissolution research is far less abundant. In general, aside from cases where the child needs to be removed from the adoptive home for their own safety, the cause of an adoption dissolving is usually simply down to the child being an incorrect fit for the parents/family, and vise versa.  

How to Prevent Disruptions/Dissolutions
Sometimes there is simply nothing you, your partner, or your family can do to prevent disruptions from happening, but in general, being correctly prepared, informed, and realistic with your expectations for the adoption and the adoption process will help ensure your new child has a healthy transition into your home.

Accepting Disruption/Dissolutions
This can be an unimaginable and horrendous event for all parties involved. You may have been dreaming of adoption for some time, or have already formed an attachment to the child in question. However, sometimes the best thing you can do for an adopted child is to move them on to a home which will be a better fit for them where they can be truly happy. Remember that this isn’t a failure on your part, and remember that if you keep your home and your hearts open, a child that is a better fit for your family may not be too far away.