Published August 2013 by Jon Bergeron, Jr., Ph.D. and Robin Pennington
Nicole Callahan, Editor
Chuck Johnson, Editor
Disruption or dissolution is something that no one involved with an adoption wants to happen, and much has been written about the prevention of this occurrence. The reality is that some adoptive families, despite years of effort and multiple and varied interventions, find themselves unable to remain together as a functioning family. A small yet increasing number of these families seek dissolution as a result of the relational and functional crises their family faces.
The focus of this article is adoption dissolution, which occurs when parents that have finalized an adoption relinquish their parental rights to that child; the child is then either adopted a second time by another family, or placed in the state foster care system. The term adoption disruption is also sometimes used in this context; however, technically a disruption occurs when a family is planning to legally adopt a child – who is typically in their custody as a foster child – but decides not to complete the adoption finalization. Disruptions typically occur within a matter of months after a child is placed in a family, whereas dissolutions can and do occur years after the adoption.