Challenges of adopted parents


Parenting is always challenging, but for adopted people becoming a mum or dad can be extra demanding, as well as extra special, according to new research from the University of East Anglia. The study is the first to investigate the lived experiences of adopted people in the UK as they become parents.

Lead researcher, Prof Beth Neil from UEA’s School of Social Work, says: ‘What we found is that when adopted people become parents, lots of issues can come up that link back to their adoption and to difficult experiences in their past such as issues of loss, rejection, abuse and neglect. Often these problems were ongoing when they became a mum or dad, threatening their parenting and playing into their biggest fear: that they might repeat negative cycles of neglect or abuse with their own children.

‘For some, having their first child meant meeting the first person in their life that they had a biological connection to. Others were afraid they would not bond with their child or that their child would reject them. But the flipside was the determination to try and break cycles of abuse, and we saw that for many adopted parents, becoming a parent was a positive turning point.’

Sadly, many adoptees fear that asking for help and expressing worries might lead to scrutiny of their parenting. ‘This research highlights the need for more support for adopted people both in childhood and when they become parents themselves,’ says Prof Neil.