Adoption day is generally one of the most exciting days for a family. Whether a foster family finally gets the option to adopt from the Department of Children’s Services or a family finally gets through the lengthy international adoption process, having the finalized papers in hand elicits a sigh of relief. But what if this is not the happy ending envisioned? What if, after adoption, the child is not bonding with the family? Or worse, what if the child is sabotaging the family with threats of self-harm or threats to harm others?
Resentment and the inability to form attachments to the adoptive family occur more often than many realize. In fact, there are few statistics on adoptions that have failed as it is difficult to trace the families due to the records being confidential and sealed upon adoption finalization.
Reverse adoption is the term used when an adoption fails. When an adoption fails, one specific individual is not to blame. Often times, children born in third world countries or even here in the United States, suffer a great deal of trauma very early in life. Due to this early trauma, the child is unable to form a bond with his or her adoptive parents. He or she, instead, begins to manipulate and sabotage the family. The most common form of sabotage is to pit one parent against the other. The child generally makes one parent out to be the “bad guy” and succeeds in causing stress on the relationship of the parents. In single parent households, the child may act well-mannered while in the presence of others and then threaten to harm that parent or his/her siblings while at home. Frequently, children act out on their threats by attempting to harm the family pets, parents, siblings, or self.
While adoption is a very serious, irreversible action, the Tennessee law carves out an especially small exception in cases of failed adoption. It has been reported that approximately 10-15% of adoptions fail. Tennessee has very strict rules regarding adoption and also has programs such as Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP) to support the family and, hopefully, avoid a failed adoption. In cases where an attachment has not formed and it is not in the best interest of the child or family to continue the relationship, the Court must become involved to reverse or dissolve the adoption. This is a very dismal situation for all involved, especially the parents whom feel as if they have failed the child and that the child has once again been let down.
While not extremely common, failed adoptions do occur. You are not alone. Here at Breeding Henry Baysan we have experience in handling these types of cases while not only keeping the client’s, but also the child’s, best interest in mind.