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Beyond the Adoption Order: challenges, interventions and adoption disruption

There have been no national studies on adoption disruption in the UK or USA. Most of the research to date has focused on narrowly defined populations, of children placed before 1990 and on disruptions that occurred before the Adoption Order was made. In the UK, research literature on adoption disruption has been considered as just one of the outcomes in studies that have examined adoption outcomes more generally. Disruption has rarely received specific attention. This is partly because it is impossible to use available administrative data to link a child’s pre and post care histories, as the child’s social care, NHS, and pupil number changes after an Adoption Order is made. Furthermore, after the making of an Adoption Order, agencies are under no obligation to keep in touch with adoptive families and some adoptive parents want to cut ties with Children’s Services. Consequently, the rates of disruption have been quoted as ranging between 2% and 50% and there has been a view that adoptions disrupt frequently.

There are three key issues in relation to the published research on adoption disruption: lack of agreed definitions, assumption that findings from the US apply to the UK, and limited analysis of available data.