More than a quarter of adoptive families consider themselves to be ‘in crisis’ according to new research.
Nearly 3,000 subscribers to a newsletter published by the charity Adoption UK responded to questions from Radio 4 documentary programme File On 4, for an episode due for broadcast tonight (September 26).
More than half of the respondents, said their adopted child was prone to violent outbursts thanks to a traumatic early childhood. Some parents had been kicked, hit or even threatened with weapons.
Close to half the participants, meanwhile, described the adoption as “challenging but stable”. Only a quarter said it was “fulfilling and stable”.
In spite of the problems, however, the majority of the respondents said they did not regret adopting a vulnerable child, although many complained of a lack of support from their local authorities. One adopter, referred to as ‘Jane’, recalled her adopted daughter:
“She was developmentally delayed, so when she was three and a half, all the severe behaviour started to come out. She could be lovely one minute and very violent and aggressive the next.”
The family’s local authority had been reluctant to provide them with any kind of assistance she claimed.
“The whole time we were saying ‘we’re in trouble, she needs help; we need help.’ But getting anything was a struggle.”
Sadly, the adoption eventually broke down when, by the six or seven, her behavioural problems and self-harming, which included pulling out her own teeth, had reached a level where the couple could no longer cope and they sent her back into care.
Jane said of their now lost daughter:
“She’s in such turmoil, but her behaviour is not her fault. She needs help from professionals to make sense of what happened to her. You should be able to get that help.”
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown of Adoption UK added
“We’re talking about trauma-fuelled violence from children who will have witnessed the unthinkable in their early lives. Adoption is not a silver bullet. These children’s problems don’t just disappear overnight. Both adoptive parents and adopted children need skilled help and support.”
File on 4: Adoption will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 tonight at 8pm, and will be available afterwards on iPlayer.
Photo by Sally Crossthwaite via Flickr