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Social Work: Events



Speaker: Professor Elspeth Neil # School of Social Work, University of East Anglia, Norwich
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Date and Time
9th May 2019 15:00 - 9th May 2019 16:30
Dugald Stewart Building, 1.20, 3 Charles St Ln, Edinburgh, EH8 9AD

“Connections between birth and adoptive families when children are adopted from care: how contact meetings and letters shape, and are shaped by, relationships”

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For children adopted as babies and toddlers, birth family contact such as letters or meetings may take place in the context of adoptive parents and birth relatives having no prior relationship. Children are related biologically to birth relatives but may have no lived relationship in the form of memories or attachments. For children adopted at older ages established relationships with birth relatives may be present but not always positive. It is important to study how adopted young people and their adoptive parents relate to members of the birth family (and vice versa) and how and why these relationships change over time.

This presentation will explore how adopted young people describe their relationships with their birth relatives over time and how these relationships are viewed and managed by adoptive parents and birth relatives. It will draw on data from a longitudinal study of children domestically adopted in England in the mid-late 1990s. Almost all were under age 4 at placement (mean age 21 months) and 70% were adopted from public care. Almost all had experienced some form of contact with birth relatives – either by ‘letterbox’ or face to face meetings. Using data from 32 adopted young people interviewed in the third wave of the study (mean age 18 years) the question of if and how these young adoptees have developed relationships with their birth relatives will be explored and the role of contact meetings and letters in shaping these relationships will be explored. The implications for contemporary adoption practice will be discussed. 

Beth Neil