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Adoption Q&A #6

What Happens When Adoption Doesn't Work?

Adoptions, like giving birth to a child, are intended to create lifetime relationships. A child of adoption in Wisconsin has the same legal rights as a birth child. However, in recent years, there have been increasing numbers of adoptive parents seeking to dissolve the legal parent-child relationship with an adopted son or daughter.

Wisconsin treats such adoption disruptions in the same manner legally as it treats a birth mother seeking to place her infant for adoption. A formal termination of parental rights procedure is required and there needs to be an adoptive resource or place for the child to go, a new set of parents. As unfortunate as adoption dissolution is, there are times when such a result is better for both the parents and the child.

Some characteristics which we often see in adoption dissolution cases are the following:

  1. A belief that love can conquer all
  2. Lack of adequate education about adoption and health issues, both physical and mental
  3. Children being placed with significant psychological or physical problems that have been either undiagnosed or undisclosed, especially reactive attachment disorder in children that have been in multiple foster placements or orphanages
  4. Placement of older children or children in sibling groups with an adoptive parent or parents unprepared for the special issues those circumstances present
  5. Lack of recognition of the difficulty placement of an adopted child into an existing family with children will bring

There are other factors which play a role in adoption dissolution, but we are at the early stages of learning how to deal with this tragic issue. The children of dissolved adoptions are often children placed internationally at older ages. There are not enough well-trained therapists to assist parents and children when issues begin to arise. Our legal system has no special procedures to deal with adoption dissolution. There are inadequate resources to determine appropriate placement alternatives for children. Adoption agencies are often not willing to assist with failed adoptions for personal and liability reasons. Adoption dissolution is an issue that needs attention today.


Grady, Hayes & Neary, LLC
N14W23777 Stone Ridge Drive Suite 200
Waukesha, WI 53188
Phone Number:(262) 347-2001