I am a child of a partial adoption (stepfather) and a social worker. My situation was open because I was nine years old and already very much aware of who my biological paternal family were. As a social worker but also in many personal connections that I have, I am painfully aware of what adoption does to destroy a child and their identity. It is worse when the child knows nothing about thier biological beginnings.
As a social worker, I’ve witnessed partial families adopted while their older siblings must now be pushed away from their own family. In partial adoptions the siblings have no more rights to visit each other than parents do. So this means the children are blamed for their parents mistakes and they too are punished. This was a painful job for me as a professional because I was dealing with the emotions of the older children. One of which was mentally retarded and how no understanding of laws and ethics. Imagine what this was like trying to explain to this teenager why they could no longer speak to or see their younger siblings.
Social services workers often have no relationship to adoption (on a personal level) and therefore have no empathy of what this must be like for a family. Often families are blamed in social services anyway and are seen as the bad guys. They aren’t. They are just ignorant people who came from a similar lineage. They didn’t know any better.
But children DO need a long-term, safe, loving, and supportive environment. There is a difference between a closed and an open adoption. Social services will pretend that it is open because the adoptive parents know the information of the parent. In reality, once the adoption papers are signed, the children become the property of the adoptive parents in the sense that they now control the child’s lives. They change their names and determine what they will know and will remain oblivious too. Birth records are sealed and new birth certificates created in all adoption situations and thus the child’s true beginnings are erased and put in a vault. Legally one can go to court and request (as an adult) to open the case and retrieve the original birth certificate. That is if they even know they were adopted.
I believe adoption should be re-assessed and new laws put in place as to what this means on a national, even international level. No matter what your birth certificate says, the DNA never changes. A child has a right to know who their biological parents were for medical reasons as well as to preserve their identity.
In every adoption I have been privy too, or known of, egotism played a huge role. There is something very strange that happens to people when they are now choosing their own destiny through that of a child.
What happens to children who are adopted? Teenage life is hell. It is no different from that of a child who is a homosexual. Identity confusion for an adopted child is great as they look at themselves and their parents and see an obvious difference. Even those raised with love and a good family still know they are not part of the mix. Adoptive children are generally very rebellious and experimental with their own choices. That is because there is anger, frustration, guilt, and confusion as to why they were adopted. There will also be a curiosity about what their birth family looked like. I will never forget the time I went to the country of my ancestors and saw my own culture for the first time. I felt like I came home. I felt a sense of happiness that I had never felt before in my life. Emotionally I was distraught for some time on my return as I felt a sense that I had left part of myself behind. Even the first time that I saw my birth father after about 20 some years, the feeling was rather deja vu. I knew him from somewhere deep in my past and I wanted to remember all those moments. However, I was so young when he left and emotionally vulnerable with an adoption that I was forced into. Thus the pain of the adoption erased many memories.
Looking upon others who look like you is a way of feeling as if you belong. If you study yoga, as I have for many years, than you probably learned the Sanskrit words for the asanas. The sound of a word that dates back thousands of years is a very spiritual process. Looking into the face of the one who brought you into the world and having knowledge of their roots is also spiritual. You see yourself and you see your ancestors.
To put this in another way, I am currently doing my chart on ancestry.com. The further I am able to go back the more my room fills up with the ghosts of those who came before me. I am also able to see how the decisions I have made have a metaphysical connection to those before me. The more you understand about your roots the more grounded you can become but also the stronger your self-esteem.
This blog is dedicated to children who are raised in ways that are not conscious of their psychological, mental, and physical futures. To those who commit errors in a desperate attempt to get someone to notice them. To acknowledge that they exist and have something to say – even if they don’t know what they want to say. Juvenile forensics is based on children who have not come to terms with their identity, among many other challenges the average person can not even imagine. Yet we adults, who think we know better, continue to chase the same ridiculous standards of living and follow the same rules without giving any thought to what consequences will be there down the road. In social services and family law courts the only concern is getting the child a long-term legal family to take responsibility for the kid – so they don’t have to. Short term answers are favored over philosophically analyzing the effects of such a decision. Laws around adoption are designed to deal with the matter at hand as per the codes in the book. Laws can be changed but we have to want them to.
he Adoption Target and its effect today
The Adoption Target and its effect today
The Sunday Express today has a story about how over a thousand children each year
continue to be wrongly adopted as a result in part of an error in calculating
the adoption target.
Booker today in the Sunday Telegraph looks at an additional two case
There is a lot of misinformation spread by civil servants (and parroted by ministers) about the adoption targets.
Each English Council with childrens services responsibility had a specific local target known as BV
PI 163 or PAF C23. (Those are “Best Value Performance Indicator” or “Performance
This was calculated as the number of children adopted from care each year by that local authority as a percentage of the total
number of children that had been in care for at least 6 months as at the 31st of
March of the same year. (The years go from 1st April to 31st March same as the
All local authorities had specific funding to encourage adoption and some also had financial rewards from the government for hitting
their local target.
From April 2006 the adoption target was redefined to be a permanence target which included Adoption, Residency Orders and Special
This was scrapped from 1st April 2008.
The target, therefore, had the effect of skewing local authority decision-making up
to and including the year that ended in 31st March 2008 (which is called in the
The first government lie is to pretend the target only lasted until 2006. It was redefined in 2006, but lasted until 2008.
Some local authorities (eg Merton) still have such a target. These targets, however,
are not nationally agreed.
The mathematical error is to have as the numerator (children per year) and the denominator (children). This does not give
a percentage. A percentage is a dimensionless number. This gives a dimension of
The problem is that it was generally thought that the proportion of children being adopted was in fact relatively low when it was far
An example of this error of thinking can be seen in Ofsted’s
APA of 2008 or Alan Rushton’s paper from 2007.
Outcomes of adoption
from public care: research and practice issues written by Alan Rushton
includes the following:
Nevertheless, it would be wrong to think that any wholesale moving of children from birth families into adoptive families is
taking place. Adoption from care concerns just a small proportion (6%) of all
looked after children in England (Department for Education and Skills, 2005) and
so remains a relatively uncommon solution to the needs of these young
The problem is that the proportion is not a
If we take all the children that left care aged under 5 in 2005 (4,200) we find that 2,100 were adopted. That is 50%.
Realistically as children get older they are less likely to be adopted. Those children that go
into care above 10 are often those that do so because their parents cannot cope
with their behaviour. It is, therefore, unlikely that they will be
In 1997 2,000 under 5s left care, but only 640 did so through adoption. That is a lower percentage (because a higher proportion went home to
their parents). However, it is still 32% which is a lot more than the 6% figure
that is quoted.
The argument that was put by the government is that they were dealing with children “languishing in care”. Superficially you could say
that there was an increase in the number of children leaving care and those were
those which ceased languishing in care (again looking at those aged under 5).
However, you find in fact that the difference between the number taken into care
and that leave care still remains at about 2,000 per year (although 2010 was in
What you find, in fact, is that when the pressure for adoptions started (which was actually earlier than the adoption target) that the
numbers taken into care also increased. There are anecdotal reports of local
authorities looking for potential adoptees (called by some practitioners
Hence what was a laudable objective was based upon a misunderstanding of the statistical picture. Furthermore there is a
Practice has not substantially changed although there has been a relatively small drop of in permanence numbers (which includes a
higher reduction in adoption numbers, but still to a much higher position than
pre the adoption target).
As far as the under 5s are concerned the 2010
figure was 2,000 compared to the 2005 figure of 2,100.
Furthermore we now have the nonsense from Martin Narey who compares the historic numbers of
theoretically voluntary adoptions (in an era before better contraception,
abortion and changing social attitudes led to large numbers of babies being born
inconveniently and being adopted) to those forcibly removed from families
through the use of some corrupt experts and a legal environment which is biased
against non-institutional parties.
The Government Minister is also calling for more adoption from care without having any evidence base to identify
which children it is that need to be adopted.
There is undoubtedly a big problem with reactive attachment disorder. This appears to be caused at times by
babies being removed at a very early age and then getting insufficient personal
Whether this policy will be shifted before enough of the people who have been through it create an outcry is unclear. A lot of damage is
being done – particularly to the children – by a policy based on mathematical
errors and a lack of intellectual rigour in policy setting.
The real flaws in the decisionmaking remain hidden, however, by the secrecy in the system
and desire to protect the backs of those people who earn money from the system.
The Negative Affects of Foster Care
The negative effects of foster care
Individuals who were in foster care experience higher rates of physical and psychiatric morbidity than the general population. In a study of adults who were in foster care in Oregon and Washington state, they were found to have double the incidence ofdepression, 20% as compared to 10% and were found to have a higher rate of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than combat veterans with 25% of those studied having PTSD. Children in foster care have a higher probability of having Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, and deficits in executive functioning, anxiety as well other developmental problems. These children experience higher degrees of incarceration, poverty, homelessness, and suicide. Recent studies in the U.S., suggests that, foster care placements are more detrimental to children than remaining in a troubled home.
Foster care has been shown in various studies to have deleterious consequences on the physical health and mental wellbeing of those who were in foster care. Many children enter foster care at a very young age, a period where the development of mental and psychological processes are at one of their critical peaks. The human brain doesn’t fully develop until approximately the age of twenty, and one of the most critical periods of brain development occurs in the first 3–4 years. The processes that govern the development of personality traits, stress response and cognitive skills are formed during this period. The developing brain is directly influenced by negative environmental factors including lack of stimulation due to emotional neglect, poor nutrition, exposure to violence in the home environment and child abuse.
Negative environmental influences have a direct effect on all areas of neurodevelopment: neurogenesis (creation of new neurons),apoptosis (death and reabsorption of neurons), migration (of neurons to different regions of the brain), synaptogenesis (creation ofsynapses), synaptic sculpturing (determining the make-up of the synapse), arborization (the growth of dendritic connections ,myelinzation (protective covering of neurons), and an enlargement of the brain’s ventricles, which can cause corticalatrophy.
Most of the processes involved in healthy neurodevelopment are predicated upon the establishment of close nurturing relationships and environmental stimulation. Foster children have elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone in comparison to children raised by their biological parents. Elevated cortisol levels can compromise the immune system. (Harden BJ, 2004).Negative environmental influences during this critical period of brain development can have lifelong consequences.
Epigenetic effects of environment
Gene expression can be affected by the environment through epigenetic mechanisms. Negative environmental influences, such as maternal deprivation, child abuse and stress have been shown to have a profound effect on gene expression, includingtransgenerational epigenetic effects in which physiological and behavioral (intellectual) transfer of information across generations-not-yet-conceived is effected. In the Överkalix study in Sweden, the effects of epigentic inheritance were shown to have a direct correlation to the environmental influences faced by the parents and grandparents. Many physiological and behavioral characteristics ascribed to Mendelian inheritance are due in fact to transgenerational epigenetic inheritance. The implications in terms of foster care and the cost to society as a whole is that the stress, deprivation and other negative environmetal factors many foster children are subjected to has a detrimental effect not only their physical, emotional and cognitive well-being, but that the damage can transcend generations.
In studies of the adult offspring of Holocaust survivors, parental PTSD was a risk factor for the development of PTSD in adult offspring in comparison to those whose parents went through the Holocaust without developing PTSD. The offspring of survivors with PTSD had lower levels of urinary cortisol excretion, salivary cortisol and enhanced plasma cortisol suppression in response to low dose dexamethasone administration than offspring of survivors without PTSD. Low cortisol levels are associated with parental, particularly maternal, PTSD. This is in contrast to the normal stress response in which cortisol levels are elevated after exposure to a stressor. The results of the study point to the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms.
|Epigenetic Effects of Abuse|
“In addition, the effects of abuse may extend beyond the immediate victim into subsequent generations as a consequence of epigenetic effects transmitted directly to offspring and/or behavioral changes in affected individuals. (Neighh GN et al.2009)
It has been suggested in various studies that the deleterious epigentic effects may be somewhat ameliorated through pharmacological manipulations in adulthood via the administration of nerve growth factor-inducible protein A, and through the inhibition of a class of enzymes known as the histone deacetylases (HDACs). “HDAC inhibitors (HDACIs) such as Trichostatin A(TSA); ”TSA can be used to alter gene expression by interfering with the removal of acetyl groups from histones”, and L-methionine an essential amino acid, have been developed for the treatment of a variety of malignancies and neurodegenerative disorders. Drug combination approaches have also shown promise for the treatment of mood disorders including bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression.”
Post traumatic stress disorder
Children in foster care have a higher incidence of Post traumatic stress disorder(PTSD).In one study (Dubner and Motta, 1999) 60% of children in foster care who had experienced sexual abuse had PTSD, and 42% of those who had been physically abused fulfilled the PTSD criteria. PTSD was also found in 18% of the children who were not abused. These children may have developed PTSD due to witnessing violence in the home. (Marsenich, 2002).
In a study conducted in Oregon and Washington state, the rate of PTSD in adults who were in foster care for one year between the ages of 14-18 was found to be higher than that of combat veterans, with 25 percent of those in the study meeting the diagnostic criteria as compared to 12-13 percent of Iraq war veterans and 15 percent of Vietnam war veterans, and a rate of 4% in the general population. The recovery rate for foster home alumni was 28.2% as opposed to 47% in the general population.
Foster children are at increased risk for a variety of eating disorders, in comparison to the general population.
Obesity children in foster care are more prone to becoming overweight and obese, and in a study done in the United Kingdom, 35% of foster children experienced an increase in Body Mass Index (BMI) once in care.
Hyperphagic Short Stature syndrome (HSS) is a condition characterized by short stature due to insufficient growth hormone production, an excessive appetite (hyperphagia) and mild learning disabilities. While it is believed to have genetic component, HSS is triggered by being exposed to an environment of high psychosocial stress; it is not uncommon in children in foster homes or other stressful environments. HSS improves upon removal from the stressful environment.
Food Maintenance Syndrome is characterized by a set of aberrant eating behaviors of children in foster care. It is “a pattern of excessive eating and food acquisition and maintenance behaviors without concurrent obesity”; it resembles “the behavioral correlates of Hyperphagic Short Stature”. It is hypothesised that this syndrome is triggered by the stress and maltreatment foster children are subjected to, it was prevalent amongst 25 percent of the study group in New Zealand.
A study by Dante Cicchetti found that 80% of abused and maltreated infants in his study exhibited symptoms of disorganized attachment. Children with histories of maltreatment, such as physical and psychological neglect, physical abuse, and sexual abuse, are at risk of developing psychiatric problems. These children may be described as experiencing trauma as the result of abuse or neglect, inflicted by a primary caregiver, which disrupts the normal development of secure attachment. Such children are at risk of developing a disorganized attachment. Disorganized attachment is associated with a number of developmental problems, including dissociative symptoms, as well as depressive, anxiety, and acting-out symptoms.
Children in foster care experience high rates of child abuse, emotional deprivation, and physical neglect. In one study in theUnited Kingdom ”foster children were 7-8 times, and children in residential care 6 times more likely to be assessed by a pediatrician for abuse than a child in the general population”.
Poverty and homelessness
Nearly half of foster kids in the U.S. become homeless when they turn 18. ”One of every 10 foster children stays in foster care longer than seven years, and each year about 15,000 reach the age of majority and leave foster care without a permanent family—many to join the ranks of the homeless or to commit crimes and be imprisoned.
Three out of 10 of the United States homeless are former foster children. According to the results of the Casey Family Study of Foster Care Alumni, up to 80 percent are doing poorly—with a quarter to a third of former foster children at or below the poverty line, three times the national poverty rate. Very frequently, people who are homeless had multiple placements as children: some were in foster care, but others experienced “unofficial” placements in the homes of family or friends.
Individuals with a history foster care tend to become homeless at an earlier age than those who were not in foster care and Caucasians who become homeless are more likely to have a history of foster care than Hispanics or African Americans. The length of time a person remains homeless is prolonged in indiviuals who were in foster care.
Children in foster care are at a greater risk of suicide, the increased risk of suicide is still prevalent after leaving foster care and occurs at a higher rate than the general population. In a study of Texas youths who aged out of the system 23 percent had a history of suicide attempts.
A Swedish study utilizing the data of almost one million people including 22,305 former foster children who had been in care prior to their teens, concluded:
Former child welfare clients were in year of birth and sex standardised risk ratios (RRs) four to five times more likely than peers in the general population to have been hospitalised for suicide attempts….Individuals who had been in long-term foster care tended to have the most dismal outcome…former child welfare/protection clients should be considered a high-risk group for suicide attempts and severe psychiatric morbidity.
Children in foster care have an overall higher mortality rate than children in the general population. A study conducted inFinland among current and former foster children up to age 24 found a higher mortality rate due to substance abuse, accidents, suicide and illness. The deaths due to illness were attributed to an increased incidence of acute and chronic medical conditions and developmental delays among children in foster care.
Poor academic prospects
|Educational outcomes of ex-foster children in the Northwest Alumni Study;|
Foster care has been proven in innumerable studies to not be conducive to academic performance. In a study conducted inPhiladelphia by Johns Hopkins University it was found that; among high school students who are in foster care, have been abused and neglected, or receive out of home placement by the courts, the probability of dropping out of school is greater than 75%.
State abuses in the United States
Throughout the 1990s, experimental HIV drugs were tested on HIV-positive foster children at Incarnation Children’s Center in Harlem. The agency has also been accused of racism, some comparing the trials to the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, as 98 percent of children in foster care in New York City belong to ethnic minorities.
Studies” have revealed that youth in foster care covered by Medicaid insurance receive psychotropic medication at a rate that was 3 times higher than that of Medicaid-insured youth who qualify by low family income. In a review (September 2003 to August 2004) of the medical records of 32,135 Texas foster care 0–19 years-old, 12,189 were prescribed psychotropic medication, resulting in an annual prevalence of 37.9% of these children being prescribed medication. 41.3% received 3 different classes of these drugs during July 2004, and 15.9% received 4 different classes. The most frequently used medications wereantidepressants (56.8%), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder drugs (55.9%), and antipsychotic agents (53.2%).
– Psychotropic medication patterns among youth in foster care., Pediatrics 2008
Psychiatrists prescribed 93% of the psychotropic medication, and it was noted in the review of these cases that the use of expensive, brand name, patent protected medication was prevalent. In the case of SSRIs the use of the most expensive medications was noted to be 74%, in the general market only 28% are for brand name SSRI’s vs generics. The average out-of-pocket expense per prescription was $34.75 for generics and $90.17 for branded products, a $55.42, difference.
Sexual abuse and negligence
One study by Johns Hopkins University found that the rate of sexual abuse within the foster-care system is more than four times as high as in the general population; in group homes, the rate of sexual abuse is more than 28 times that of the general population. An Indiana study found three times more physical abuse and twice the rate of sexual abuse in foster homes than in the general population. A study of foster children in Oregon and Washington State found that nearly one third reported being abused by a foster parent or another adult in a foster home. These statistics do not speak to the situation these children are coming from, but it does show the very large problem of child-on-child sexual abuse within the system. There have been several notable lawsits concerning sexual abuse and negligence that caused review of the foster care system in some states:
In 2010, an ex-foster child was awarded $30 million by jury trial in California (Santa Clara County) for sexual abuse damages that happened to him in his foster home from 1995 to 1999. The foster parent, John Jackson, was licensed by the state, despite the fact that he abused his own wife and son, overdosed on drugs and was arrested for drunken driving. In 2006, Jackson was convicted in Santa Clara County of nine counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child by force, violence, duress, menace and fear, and seven counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.The sex acts he forced the children in his foster care to perform sent him to prison for 220 years. Later in 2010, Giarretto Institute, the private foster family agency responsible for licensing and monitoring Jackson’s foster home and others, also was found to be negligent and liable for 75 percent of the abuse that was inflicted on the victim, and Jackson himself was liable for the rest.
In 2009, Oregon Department of Human Services agreed to pay $2 million into a fund for the future care of twins who were allegedly abused by their foster parents; this was the largest such settlement in the agency’s history. According to the civil rights suit filed on request of twins’ adoptive mother in December 2007 in U.S. Federal Court, the children were kept in makeshift cages—cribs covered with chicken wire secured by duct tape—in a darkened bedroom known as “the dungeon.” The brother and sister often went without food, water or human touch. The boy, who had a shunt put into his head at birth to drain fluid, didn’t receive medical attention, so when police rescued the twins he was nearly comatose. The same foster family previously took into their care hundreds of other children over nearly four decades. DHS said the foster parents deceived child welfare workers during the checkup visits.
Several lawsuits were brought in 2008 against the Florida Department of Children & Families (DCF), accusing it of mishandling reports that Thomas Ferrara, 79, a foster parent, was molesting young girls. The suits claimed that even though there were records of sexual misconduct allegations against Ferrara in 1992, 1996, and 1999, the DCF continued to place foster children with Ferrara and his then-wife until 2000. Ferrara was arrested in 2001, after a 9-year-old girl told detectives he regularly molested her over two years and threatened to hurt her mother if she told anyone. Records show that Ferrara had as many as 400 children go through his home during his 16 years as a licensed foster parent (from 1984 to 2000). Officials stated that the lawsuits over Ferrara ended up costing the DCF almost $2.26 million. Similary, in 2007 Florida‘s DCF paid $1.2 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged DCF ignored complaints that another mentally disabled Immokalee girl was being raped by her foster father, Bonifacio Velazquez, until the 15-year-old gave birth to a child.
In a class action lawsuit Charlie and Nadine H. v. McGreevey was filed in federal court by “Children’s Rights” New York organization on behalf of children in the custody of the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS). The complaint alleged violations of the childrens’ constitutional rights and their rights under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, theChild Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act, Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment, 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, theAmericans with Disabilities Act, and the Multiethnic Placement Act (MEPA). In July 2002, the federal court granted plaintiffs’ experts access to 500 children’s case files, allowing plaintiffs to collect information concerning harm to children in foster care through a case record review. These files revealed numerous cases in which foster children were abused, and DYFS failed to take proper action. On June 9, 2004, the child welfare panel appointed by the parties approved the NJ State’s Reform Plan. The court accepted the plan on June 17, 2004. The same organization also filed similar lawsuits against several other states in recent years that caused some of the states to start child welfare reforms.
The lost children (Australia)
An estimated 150,000 British children were sent to overseas colonies and countries in the commonwealth such as Australia. This practice was in effect from the beginning of the nineteenth century until 1967. Many of these children were sent to orphanages, foster homes and religious institutions, where they were used as a free source of labor and many were severely abused and neglected. These children were classified as orphans although most were not. In the period after World War II the policy was dubbed the “Child Migrants Programme”. The prime consideration was money as it was cheaper to care for children in commonwealth countries than it was in the United Kingdom. At least 10,000 children, some as young as 3, were shipped to Australia after the war, most to join the ranks of the “Forgotten Australians“, the term given for those who experienced care in foster homes and institutions in the 20th century. Among these Forgotten Australians were members of the “Stolen Generation“, the children of Australian Aborigines, forcibly removed from their homes and raised in white institutions. In 2008 Australian Prime Minister, Kevin Ruddapologised to the approximately 500,000 “forgotten Australians” and in 2010 British Prime Minister Gordon Brown issued a similar apology to those who were victimised by the Child Migrants Programme.
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