Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Happens if an Adoption Does not Work out? (Adoption Dissolution)

The National Council for Adoption has estimated that between 1% and 10% of adoptions result in dissolution.  There is little support available for families in these relatively rare situations.

Adoptive parents considering an adoption dissolution can find themselves facing very strong criticism. Those outside the situation may strenuously voice objection to the very idea, believing that "you are treating an adopted child differently than you would treat a child who was born into your family."

Nonetheless, adoptive parents may have very strong and valid reasons for seeking information about dissolution.  For instance, if serious danger to a parent or other children in the family exists, and the situation is unlikely to improve with medications and therapy.

A family in crisis for these reasons can reach out for help.  Help is available from various sources, such as;

  • the agency that facilitated the adoption (when applicable)
  • other adoption advocacy organizations;  
  • a private attorney who regularly practices in the area of adoption law 
  • state and local resources and organizations 
  • licensed, trained psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers who are familiar with these issues; and 
  • colleges, universities, medical schools and medical centers which have programs and departments specifically dealing with adoption issues and the specific medical or psychological issues that the child has.

Some other options include respite care, where a family and the child get some time away from each other, while specific solutions are sought.

Legal options include giving custody or guardianship of the child to an agency or person(s).   A temporary guardianship may be appropriate in some cases.

Although there are certainly situations in which Child Protective Services should be involved, an adoptive parent who invokes CPS out of frustration and fear may be distressed to find that they are not seen as a "partner" in trying to do the right thing. Once a file is opened, the agency is required by law to take certain steps and to process the case according to specific guidelines and procedures. Although there are times under the law when it is mandatory to involve this agency, it is usually not wise to do so when there are other immediate resources available.

Sometimes a family may believe that there is no hope but once they have a professional (or a team of professionals) working together with them, they find that things can improve.

Dissolution should only be sought when other avenues have failed.

If a dissolution is inevitable, the best possible situation for the child should be sought.  Sometimes it is possible to find another family willing and able to re-adopt the child.  For instance, in some cases a child's past trauma may make it impossible for a child to live comfortably in a home with family members of the opposite (or the same) sex.

A family that has been forced to even consider a dissolution is nearly always in excruciating emotional pain.   It is important that the family members have individuals that they can go to who will not judge them, but assist them with finding a solution.

For an excellent, and detailed article about this subject, see The Adoption Advocate, No. 62, NCFA

Kalish Law Office - Adoption Attorneys - The Woodlands, Texas - Since 1984   "Passionate, Professional and Personal.  We make the difference."

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