Parenting under adversity: birth parents' accounts of inequality and adoption

Shirley Jane Lewis, Geraldine Brady

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    7 Citations (Scopus)
    164 Downloads (Pure)


    This paper aims to highlight inequality in current adoption processes and procedures in England and Wales. Whilst inequality has been recognised in adoption research, the role of social structures is often neglected. Inequality within social structures plays a role in the process of the permanent removal of children to be adopted, and is worthy of further attention. Birth parent voices can contribute to a wider understanding of adoption, but often remain hidden. Empirical research findings highlight how birth parents may find that their adverse experiences are exacerbated by the adoption process, the emotional impact causing existing problems to increase, and through the impact of the adoption process on birth parent’s socio-economic status. Findings also illustrate how birth parents’ experiences were influenced by ideals of motherhood and ideas about ‘risk’ to children. The paper contributes to the growing area of research which illuminates the intersection of poverty, deprivation and child protection services and the wider contemporaneous debate concerning adoption in England and Wales.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number257
    Number of pages14
    JournalSocial Sciences
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2018

    Bibliographical note

    This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

    Copyright © and Moral Rights are retained by the author(s) and/ or other copyright owners. A copy can be downloaded for personal non-commercial research or study, without prior permission or charge. This item cannot be reproduced or quoted extensively from without first obtaining permission in writing from the copyright holder(s). The content must not be changed in any way or sold commercially in any format or medium without the formal permission of the copyright holders.


    • Adoption
    • Inequality
    • Birth parents
    • Gender
    • Adversity


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