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What happens when an adoption fails

October 14, 2013

914913_95016626_sad_teen_girlWe wrote last week about the statistics on adoption dissolution. But the facts don’t tell the whole story. We gave tips on saving your adoption before it ever begins, but we didn’t address what to do when you just can’t parent your adopted child anymore.

First, we start out telling you under no circumstances should a parent set out to adopt a child with the intention or “escape plan” being “We’ll place the child with another family.” If you don’t believe the adoption will work going into it, trust us, it won’t work.

But we feel obligated to talk about the topic no one wants to discuss. Parents who simply cannot care for troubled children any longer are exhausted, many times financially strapped from months or even years of expensive therapy and in-patient mental health treatment for their child and scared for their own safety and that of other children in the home. They are desperate for help and don’t know where to turn.

Where do you go from here?

In the news stories over the last few months we’ve read countless stories of children who have been “re-homed” through internet boards where they are listed like puppies to be given away. The thought of it grieves our hearts and turns our stomachs. In the worst case scenarios (and the articles are filled with their stories), these children end up in the homes of known child abusers and molesters who have never completed a home study.

Help is available for the children and parents in these troubled situations.

Start with an adoption agency

For parents at the end of their rope, we suggest they contact the agency who helped them with the adoption. If they did not use an agency or were unhappy with the agency they used, they need to contact an adoption agency licensed in their state. These agencies can help parents work through the legal issues, find good solutions and talk about second placements for the children—placements where they may live successful lives in a home more conducive to their needs.

If you move your child to someone else’s home without help from an agency, you risk placing your child in a dangerous situation. At best the new guardians will have difficulty enrolling your child in school and getting health care for your child. At worst your child could end up being abused, used for sex trafficking or killed.

Know what to expect

Depending on the situation, your child may be placed into the physical custody of the state until they are adopted a second time or turn 18. While you may have to pay child support to the state until your child turns 18, you will no longer be responsible for his or her day to day care—including the expenses of in-patient treatment your child may need.

If you are working with an adoption agency, your child may transition to another home immediately.

Due to privacy laws, you will likely receive little if any information about the child once the dissolution or disruption is completed.

Talk to an attorney

You wouldn’t go into a divorce without an attorney, don’t go into court for an adoption dissolution without one skilled in adoption law. Adoption laws vary from state to state. An attorney can ensure you and your child receive the best possible outcome based on the laws in your state.

Adoption dissolution or disruption isn’t an issue anyone connected to adoption likes to discuss. If you need help dealing with a difficult adoption situation, please seek out help. Our social workers and the social workers in other agencies want you to be successful in your adoption. Contact someone now for more information about available resources.