When Adoption Breaks Down

10 March 2015


You can't have missed the story in the news about Claire Patterson, who adopted a little boy in 2011 and subsequently returned him to social workers when it emerged that he had disabilities which prevented her from being able to care for him.

Claire was a single adopter and understood that the little boy she chose to adopt had no health issues, but it later emerged that he had brain damage.

She has shared her story with The Times, and gone on to start an organisation called Adoption Disruption UK which provides support for people for whom adoption breaks down.

The Daily Mail reports:

‘He had neurological damage, or brain damage, and had been born that way,’ Claire said.

‘He was having 36 seizures a day and his epilepsy was a symptom of something much bigger. He didn’t know who I was.'

Handing the child back to social services meant complying with a legal care order which, the papers report, Claire felt implied that she was somehow to blame, so she went to court to fight for ‘no fault’ ruling, which would also enable her to adopt again. She now hopes to adopt a child aged between three and six years old.

Claire writes this about her intentions for her website:

I realised that there was no online support group in the UK or anywhere specific offering advice, counselling or consolation. Had I been able to reach out and talk to another Adoptive Parent who had gone through something similar I know I would have felt less alone. Hence the idea to link Adoptive Parents together so they can chat/meet up and so forth. This is to be an informative site, dedicated to being a lifeline to parents in distress.

It's a heart-breaking, emotive story, and personally I applaud Claire for talking about her experience of an adoption not working out, and for seeking to help others with similar stories of adoption disruption.

I'm not sure anyone can possibly say what they would or wouldn't do in similar circumstances, but the critical element of this story is clearly that Claire isn't the only adoptive parent to have an experience like this, and greater support should be available. Good on her for making that happen.

What's your view?

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1 comment

  • Bunnyboo1
    I hope the little boy is cared for and looked after by a family that can look after a child with needs. I work in a special needs school with children that have lots of different disabilities and many of the staff admit that it is hard work looking after a child with special needs and they couldn't do it. So I wouldn't judge anyone that was in that position. It's just unfair on the child that he was born that way.

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