Birth fathers and their adopted children: Fighting, withdrawing or connecting

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Birth fathers of children adopted from care have suffered relative neglect by researchers and service providers. Most current birth fathers are more vulnerable than their predecessors. Their children have usually been removed by court order and compulsorily adopted. However, birth fathers can have an important role to play in helping their adopted children to understand their birth heritage and their present identity. John Clifton presents the findings of a qualitative study of the experiences of birth fathers regarding their children's adoption. The study explores the impact of the adoption on the fathers themselves and upon their ability to find a new reduced role in their children's lives. The findings are that most fathers felt humiliated by the adoption crisis. The alternative ways in which birth fathers manage the consequent emotions of shame and guilt determine outcomes for the men and for their future relationships with their children. Three groups of fathers were identified. Angrily opposed and demoralised fathers found themselves distanced from their children. A third group appeared more able to retain a meaningful connection with their children and bear the loss of their child. The practice implications of the findings are explored.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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