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Parents adopted as kids need more support - study

Andy Trigg

BBC News, Norfolk


  • 24 November 2023

Researchers at the University of East Anglia interviewed 20 mums and 20 dads

Adults adopted as children often feel a sense of "loss, rejection, abuse and neglect" when becoming new parents, a study has found.

The University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich looked at the "lived experiences" of 40 men and women after researchers said previous studies were "very limited".

The report suggested people who were adopted before the age of 12 often felt a heightened sense of anxiety when becoming new parents as it brought back difficult memories.

The study said earlier intervention was needed for adoptees who suffered with poor mental health.

"For some, having their first child meant meeting the first person in their life that they had a biological connection to," said lead researcher Prof Beth Neil, from UEA's School of Social Work.

"Others were afraid they would not bond with their child or that their child would reject them."

Almost a quarter of the parents in the study were not living with their children - including some who had lost their children to care or adoption, which the report described as "devastating".

Key turning point

In 2021, a survey by the charity Adoption UK, external suggested that 46% of adoptees aged between 16 and 25 were involved with mental health services, compared with the national figure of 17%,.

Many suffered from alcohol addiction, substance misuse and relationship issues.

However the UEA's report found that for some, becoming a new parent was often a "key turning point" and a motivation to "turn their lives around".

The research, which was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, made a series of recommendations for the adoption system, including better support and earlier intervention for adoptees with mental health conditions.

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