Maltreatment Of Adoptees In Adoptive Homes

Authored by: Jessica A.K. Matthews

The Routledge Handbook Of Adoption

Print publication date:  March  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138362505
eBook ISBN: 9780429432040
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9780429432040-23

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Abstract

Maltreatment in adoptive homes is not a well-recognized, researched, or understood phenomenon. This is perhaps because the very idea is anathema to the entire purpose of adoption as a system of family formation, one with the intention of promoting a family environment, safety, and permanence for children. Parents pursuing any type of adoption are subject to pre-placement evaluations that are intended to prevent children from entering unsafe or unstable circumstances (Child Welfare Information Gateway, CWIG, 2015a). Given the rigor of the pre-placement screening of adoptive parents, we would expect that adoptive families have fewer issues and less risk for maltreatment than in biological families. Many child maltreatment researchers are likely to assert that, by default, maltreatment is more likely in biological homes (e.g. van IJzendoorn, Euser, Prinzie, Juffer, & Bakermans-Kranenburg, 2009). However logical this claim might seem, very few studies compare rates of maltreatment perpetration between adoptive and biological parents. In fact, maltreatment in adoptive homes has never been specifically investigated (Mohanty, Chokkanathan, & Park, 2019). At the time of the writing of this chapter there is only one known article, which reported on the deaths of 18 internationally adopted children in the US due to maltreatment by their adoptive parents (Miller, Chan, Tirella, Reece, & Pertman, 2007). A simple review of the news media reveals hundreds of stories of adoptive parents accused or responsible for the abuse, neglect, or even death of adopted children in their care, yet no other scientific research efforts provide information about the prevalence of maltreatment among US adoptive families in general. Recognizing that maltreatment is occurring in these families that were created with the intention of increasing safety for the adoptee, this topic warrants a more scientifically sound examination. This chapter reviews the little that is known about maltreatment in adoptive families and follows up with information on maltreatment in biological families and foster care (the most comparable family form to adoption) to provide context.

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