Families' experiences of adopting from overseas
Research into intercountry adoption in the UK is limited in range and scope in comparison to the growing body of findings from the US, Scandinavia and the Netherlands and this thesis will provide the first in-depth study of the views and experiences of parents who have adopted children from overseas since the IBA Report in 1991. It will provide empirical research findings that can be used, both at a national and a local level, to aid policy decision-making. Foreign-born children represent only a small minority of children in the UK but the number and proportion of children adopted from overseas is growing and seems likely to remain substantial in years ahead and there is a need to understand more fully the experiences of families who adopt these children. Because intercountry adoption has been on a small scale in the UK, services available have been fragmentary and diverse around the country and the expertise and support available to parents both during and after the adoption has differed greatly. However, with the passing of the Adoption and Children Act 2002 and the ratification of the Hague Convention in 2003, Local Authorities are now required to provide the same level of services to intercountry adopters and a major programme of training is currently being launched. This thesis will examine parents' experiences of the adoption process and the ways in which they deal with the challenge of recognising the child's birth culture and issues of race and ethnicity, and will also look at who they turn to for support both during and after the adoption of their children. A total of thirty-one families who between them had adopted forty-three children (twenty nine girls and fourteen boys) from twelve different countries were interviewed about their experiences. The families lived in a number of different locations scattered around the UK, from the south coast of England to the North East of England but with the biggest number( fourteen) living in London. It was evident that experiences differed considerably influenced by a number of factors including the age of the children, the country from which they were adopted and the neighbourhood in which families lived. The findings suggest that preparation of parents for adopting children from overseas has in the past been neglected in a number of ways and recommends the need for a more comprehensive range of specialist services both pre and post adoption.