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September 2020   |   Archive   |   National Adoption Month   

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Stabilizing Adoptive Families Post Permanency (Preventing Adoption Disruption)

Children and youth who are adopted from the child welfare system have experienced separation, loss, and maltreatment, which contributes to the likelihood of emotional and behavioral problems. For this reason, adoption is often more difficult than adoptive families anticipate. As a result, approximately 10 to 25 percent of adoptions are disrupted, or end after the child or youth is placed in an adoptive home but before the adoption process is legally finalized.

There are several factors that may contribute to adoption disruption, including family- and agency-level factors. For example, adoptive families may have unrealistic expectations for their adoptive child and new family or they may lack social support. Additionally, child welfare agencies may have inadequately trained or supported the family or provided insufficient information about the adopted child’s history. While each of these factors contribute to adoption disruption, each can be addressed through systemic intervention.

Child welfare professionals play an active role in stabilizing families after permanency through addressing factors that may contribute to adoption disruption. This includes efforts that occur before the adoption as well as those that support the newly created adoptive family. For example, child welfare professionals can specifically match a child to an adoptive placement by understanding the strengths and limitations of a prospective adoptive family and the child’s unique history. To ease the transition, adoption professionals can arrange for visitations to acclimate the child to their new home. After the adoption process is initiated, child welfare professionals can provide appropriate referrals to service providers and offer guidance on accessing benefits and resources. These referrals may include educational and information services, clinical services, material assistance, and support networks.

The Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship offers an Intervention and Program Catalog that can help professionals address the needs of families. One such intervention is the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, which was used with families experiencing a postpermanency crisis in Tennessee. Across the permanency continuum, adoption professionals must consider the timing, communication, and support needs of the adoptive family and child to facilitate sustained permanency.

The resources below discuss factors contributing to adoption disruptions as well as efforts that child welfare professionals make to increase the postpermanency stability of adoptive families.

3 Resources on Preventing Adoption Disruption

Plan, Prepare, and
Support to Prevent

By North American
Council on Adoptable Children


Providing Adoption
Support and Preservation

By Child Welfare
Information Gateway

"Supporting Sustained

By Child Welfare League
of America &
Casey Family Programs



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