Realistic Positivity: Understanding unexpected additional needs of children placed for adoption

Adoption changes the lives of the children and families involved forever. Whilst providing nurturing new families for children can be extremely rewarding for adoptive parents, it also presents significant challenges.

The pressure can multiply if a young child has additional needs that emerge after placement or that parents feel unprepared for. Families can struggle to cope with the extra demands of raising a child with special educational needs, disabilities or health problems.

A new report by the Council for Disabled Children, part of the National Children’s Bureau, sheds light on the experiences of adoptive parents, and highlights the difficulty that professionals face in recognising, understanding and responding to the additional needs of young children placed for adoption.

The project addressed:

  • why the needs of care-experienced children may be difficult to identify or understand in the early years
  • how prospective adopters are informed about children’s health and development before placement, and how they seek help if concerns arise after placement
  • the ways professionals and services respond to concerns about the needs of young adopted children
  • ideas to improve support for families in these circumstances.

The project involved a range of activities, the key ones being interviews with six parents of eight adopted children with diverse additional needs; interviews with 13 health, social care and education professionals; a review of available literature; and analysis of relevant policy.

The report can be found below and is based on independent research commissioned and funded by the NIHR Children’s Policy Research Unit.

To read the press release, click here.