When Adoption Disruption/Dissolution Becomes Inevitable

There are times when an adoption is simply not going to work out. These circumstances are rare and terrifying for the parents and the child. There is little information available to help families navigate the practical issues of what to do when an adoption needs to be dissolved. Our guests to talk about adoption disruptions are Heidi Bruegel Cox, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for The Gladney Center for Adoption, a fellow in the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys and board member of the National Council for Adoption; and Susan Branco Alvarado, a licensed professional counselor with more than 15 years experience providing mental health psychotherapy services in the Washington DC metro area for adoptive families, adopted persons, and birth/first parents.

Hit the Highlights
  • Although often used interchangeably, what are the differences between the term adoption disruption and adoption dissolution?
  • Can you draw some conclusions about what type of adoptions are more likely to disrupt or dissolve? Do you see similarities?
  • Are there common characteristic of adoptive families that were more likely to disrupt or dissolve?
    • Being a new or matched parent rather than the child’s foster parent
    • Lack of family support
    • Unrealistic expectations
    • Adoptive mothers with more education
  • Is it easier to disrupt an adoption than to dissolve an adoption?
  • Are there differences in how you disrupt a domestic adoption and an international adoption?
  • Does it matter what country you adopted from?
  • If you dissolve or disrupt an international adoption will you be allowed to adopt internationally again?
  • What is the best way to support an adoptive family in order to prevent them reaching the point where they see dissolution as their best option? What types of counseling are most effective?
  • What are the general options parents have when they feel like they need to dissolve an adoption that has already been finalized?
  • When working with an agency to help find another family for the child, who has legal responsibility during this time?
  • Who has financial responsibility for a child during a disruption?
  • What happens to the child during this period when an agency is looking for another family?
  • Is it possible to give the child back to the state? Does it matter if you have a valid claim that the state withheld relevant information on the child?
  • If the internationally adopted child is too much for the adoptive family to handle, can the adoptive family turn the child over to the state?
  • If the child was adopted from foster care and the adoptive family received a subsidy, is it possible for a new adoptive family to receive this subsidy?
  • Do your options differ depending on the type of adoption? For example: international adoption, domestic private adoption, or foster care adoption?
  • Does the reason for the adoption disruption/dissolution matter? For example, if a child is a threat to other children in the home. Or if you can show that it is in the child’s best interest for the adoption to be dissolved.
  • What happens if residential treatment is in the best interest of the child, but the adoptive family cannot afford to pay for this treatment? Is it possible to make the state pay for this residential care?
  • Can an adoption attorney help families dissolve an adoption?
  • What happens to your financial obligations to the child after the adoption is dissolved?
  • What immigration issues exist when dissolving an international adoption?
  • Who can help an adoptive family find a new adoptive family for a child?
  • How can we help a child process a dissolution with the hope that they will be able to be integrated into a new adoptive family?
  • Are there things that an adoptive family that is requesting the dissolution can do to help the child?
  • Are sibling relationships also severed in an adoption dissolution?

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