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Adoption Disruption

adopt. kid, grief

Earlier I wrote a blog post about adoption counseling, highlighting the approach taken by adoption competent counselors. As an adoption counselor, one of the most challenging things for me is when a family is faced with a disrupted adoption. Unfortunately this is something that is not addressed enough in the adoption process.

What is adoption disruption?

Adoption disruption is defined as the displacement that occurs before the adoption is finalized, and occurs at a rate of between 10% and 25% (Carnes-Holt & Bratton, 2014; Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2012). Disruption has a strong impact on both the child and the adoptive family. It can cause all individuals involved to cope with grief, loss, anxiety. Worst of all, the childcan be left with a sense of not belonging in a family. However, researchers have also found that even after a child experiences a disruption, the adverse effects of the disruption can be deterred by a future loving, supportive, and accepting adoptive parents (Purvis, Cross, & Sunshine, 2007).

How can counseling help?

When I first heard the term “disruption” I started to think about that that word means. When I think of a disruption I think of an inconvenient minor issue that occurs throughout the day. Then I am able to cope and move through it. So, while at first I hated the word disruption being used to describe such a devastating, colossally disappointing, earth shattering occurrence such as not being able to bring the child that you have loved so deeply into your home, I recognized that maybe disruption was not such a bad way to describe this loss. This is because we as humans have the distinct ability to overcome such overwhelming loss.

Sometimes we just need a little guidance to help us through the loss and to get us to the place where we can begin to cope with the grief.  This is where an adoption competent counselor comes in. Learning skills that address the anxiety, loss, and grief does not mean that you love that child any less, but it can help you learn to address and cope with the pain a disruption brings. If adoption disruption has impacted your family, know that the counselors at Amy Wine Counseling Center are here for you. Call us at 832-421-8714 or email us to book an appointment.

Carnes-Holt, K., & Bratton, S.C. (2014). The efficacy of child parent relationship therapy for adopted children with attachment disruptions. Journal of Counseling & Development, 92, 328-337.

Child Welfare Information Gateway (2012, June). Adoption disruption and dissolution. Retrieved from

Purvis, K. B., Cross, D., R., & Sunshine, W. L. ( 2007). The connected child: For parents who have welcomed children from other countries and cultures, from troubled backgrounds, with special behavioral or emotional needs. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.


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