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Adoption: Trauma that Last a Life Time

Vicki M. Rummig


They just cannot understand. The perfect child Mr. & Mrs. Smith adopted 15 years ago is now skipping school, talking back, experimenting with drugs, and is involved in a sexual relationship with her 20-year-old drug addicted boyfriend. Until a year ago she always had good grades and enjoyed spending time with her parents; she was the ideal child. They have sought treatment from a family therapist. Nevertheless, they just cannot seem to get through to her. There have been no new stressors in the household. What could be the problem?

For many years adoption has been viewed as a perfect arrangement for all involved. What has not been taken into account are the emotional effects adoption has on all members involved, most specifically, for the purpose of this paper, the adoptee. These effects, or issues, can be managed as long as they are recognized and acknowledged. Adoptees’ psychological issues need to be addressed by mental health professionals in order to recognize and effectively treat symptoms of low self-esteem, lack of trust, and dissociation.

The adoptees’ trauma begins the moment she is separated from her birth mother. Some psychologists believe that an infant is not able to differentiate her mother until at least two months of age. At the same time they believe that the infant does not know she is her own entity (Kaplan, 1978). What do mental health professionals believe the infant thinks for these first two months? They will suggest that she is in some type of limbo, that she does not have the capacity to think or know until two months of age. Yet, she somehow knows to cry when she is uncomfortable and how to ingest her food. Psychologists will call this instinct, but we should also look at the possibility of the newborn instinctively knowing who her mother is. After all, they were connected for 40 weeks.

Since an infant does not see herself as a separate entity, we must believe that she sees herself as part of the person she was physically attached and bonded to for 40 weeks (Verrier, 1993, chap. 2). When separated from the one thing to which she has connected, the infant will feel she has lost part of herself.

Many doctors and psychologists now understand that bonding doesn’t begin at birth, but is a continuum of physiological, psychological, and spiritual events which begin in utero and continue throughout the postnatal bonding period. When this natural evolution is interrupted by a postnatal separation from the biological mother, the resultant experience of abandonment and loss is indelibly imprinted upon the unconscious minds of these children, causing that which I call the “primal wound.” (Verrier, 1993, p. 1)

When the adoptee is separated from her birth mother, she undergoes extensive trauma. She will not remember this trauma, but it will stay in her subconscious as she lived it (Verrier, 1993). An event from a person’s infancy can and will stay with them through life. An example of the subconscious effect of an early experience would be Marc. Marc was in an orphanage for the first year of his life. Because of the lack of human touch, he would rock himself in his crib. Marc is now 42 years old and still rocks himself whenever he is watching television, listening to music, or sitting on a park bench. He does not remember rocking himself as an infant, but this practice has stayed with him through his subconscious his entire life.

The adoptee will always carry this issue of abandonment with her wherever she goes. It is no different from when a husband leaves a wife. She may remarry to a wonderful man, but will always wonder if her new husband is also going to leave her. She must work through the abandonment issue to regain trust. The abandonment issue has to be acknowledged, before it can be resolved.

Even if the “primal wound” as described above was not a factor in the adoptees’ emotional well being, the knowledge of abandonment will always be there. She may have been told she was “chosen” by the adoptive parents but it will not be long until she figures out she was abandoned by the first set of parents. Julie P. responded to a question on the Adoptees Internet Mailing List (an Internet support group that consists of approximately 1000 members) about the feeling of being adopted, “No, I am not depressed, miserable, angry, or negative...but I have always felt second best. Sure I was told that I was the (chosen) one, but first I was rejected.” Regardless of the circumstances, it will always feel like abandonment to her.

The adoptee is given very little information about her relinquishment. She is expected to leave the past behind and concentrate of her present and future. Out of respect for the adoptive parents, she will often not ask questions or talk about her adoption if it is an uncomfortable subject in her home. She will wonder about her relinquishment and her birth mother. To attempt to fill in the gaps she will create fantasies of acceptable scenarios of the circumstances of her conception, birth and relinquishment, that she can emotionally handle.

As a small child, she will not understand how a mother could give her up, or abandon her. Adoptees may feel they must have been a bad baby or that the birth mother was an uncaring person. Other thoughts will occur, such as she was stolen from the birth mother, either by public authorities or her adoptive parents. Often children will fluctuate in their thoughts and fantasies depending on their perception of the adoptive parents at any given time. (Lifton, 1988 &1994; Verrier, 1993; Brodzinsky, Schechter & Henig, 1992; Reitz & Watson, 1992; Adopting Resources, 1995) She will generally outgrow believing her fantasies and begin to see them as just that, but a part of her will always wonder.

The “chosen” child story also has negative affects on a child for other reasons. The child may feel that she has to be perfect to live up to her “chosen” status. Her role model adoptees include Superman and Jesus. This is a hard image for the average child to live up to. She may either become the compliant “perfect” child or she may act out and misbehave to test the commitment of the adoptive parents. Either way, often times she is not being herself, but rather acting a part. This acting can be very emotionally draining and confusing, and may last until the early adult years and beyond. When the adoptee can not live up to her perfect “chosen” status, it will contribute to the feeling of low self-esteem. This will be further exacerbated if the adoptive parents are not aware of the issue and their actions reinforce the adoptees beliefs, i.e., sending her away for residential treatment or openly wishing her to be more like themselves.

The adoptee is also aware of many ghosts that follow her through life. These ghosts include the person she would have been had she not been adopted, the ghost of the birth mother and birth father, and the ghost of the adoptive family’s child that would have been (Lifton, 1994, chap. 6). She may find herself trying to connect to her ghosts through her actions. Either being her image of her birth family, living her life according to her fantasy birth family, or acting as her vision of the adoptive parent’s natural child.

When the adolescent adoptee acts out it may be her way of trying to connect with the image she has of her birth mother or may be that she does not feel worthy of the adoptive parents love. Adolescence is a confusing time for any child, but the adoptee has many more identity issues to deal with. She may also be testing the commitment of the adoptive parents, seeing if they will send her away for being bad.

A great many of these young people are in serious trouble with the law and are drug addicted. The girls show an added history of nymphomania and out-of- wedlock pregnancy, almost as if they were acting out the role of the “whore” mother. In fact, both sexes are experimenting with a series of identities that seem to be related to their fantasies about the biological parents. (Lifton, 1988, p. 45)

As the adoptee begins to become aware of her adoptee status she will notice the differences she has from her peers and other family members. I noticed in my family that I did not have the nose or ears of any of my adoptive family. This is normal for an adoptee and can make her feel left out or misplaced in her family. A particularly tough time for the adoptee is when first learning about genetics in school. The first lesson in heredity and genetics usually is regarding eye color. If the adoptees’ own eyes do not fall into the proper genetic pattern she is left with a distinct feeling of not belonging. There are many instances in growing up when she is again faced with the knowledge that she is different; when asked about family history by a doctor, when asked if she has a sister because the inquirer knows someone who looks just like her, when asked about ethnic background, in regular day to day conversations.

Physical differences are not the only ones that are noticed. A difference in personality or talents may further misplace the adoptee from her family. In talking with other adoptees, I have described this feeling as “feeling like my adoptive family is in a big circle but I am on the outside looking in.”

With the adoptee not having a role model who resembles her physically or psychologically, it is more difficult to define where her life shall lead. She may come from a biologically artistic family, but adopted into a scientific family. She may not only feel the need to follow in her adoptive family’s footsteps, attending similar colleges, choosing similar careers, but she did not have the artistic role model to show her that way of life. This further complicates the identity formation of the adoptee. “One’s identity begins with the genes and family history...” (Reitz & Watson, 1992, p. 134)

Adoptees also lack the ability to see their physical characteristics as they will present themselves in the future. A natural born daughter would be able to tell how big she is going to be, if she will have a tendency to be overweight, or if she is going to go grey early in life, but the adoptee is denied this genetic role model and will not know these things until she reaches that stage in life herself. This adds to the curiosity of wanting to know their genetic background.

Rachel says that families are a hall of mirrors, “Everyone but adoptees can look in and see themselves reflected. I didn’t know what it was like to be me. I felt like someone who looks into a mirror and sees no reflection. I felt lonely, not connected to anything, floating, like a ghost.” (Lifton, 1994, p. 68)

The adoptee will feel even more dissociated when conversations regarding other family members or peers births are brought up. She is missing the story of her birth parents meeting, her conception, her birth, and in some instances, some time after her birth. On the Adoptees Internet Mailing List one member described this feeling as the “floating cosmic blip.” It is often commented that the adoptee feels hatched not born or that they are some type of space alien. Non-adoptees take their own life story for granted, but the adoptee is acutely aware that theirs is missing. So now, not only does the adoptee feel dissociated from her adoptive family, but also from her peers, for she is different.

Adoptees are faced with a feeling of loss and grief that they are not allowed, by society, to actively mourn. “With adoption, the child experiences a loss (like divorce or death) of an unknown person, and doesn’t know why.” (Adopting Resources, 1995) She is aware that family members are lost to her, but is expected to not mourn the loss of this family member she has never known. She will often be chastised when asking questions of her birth family from her adoptive family.

Not all of these issues affect adoptees to the same extent. Some may spend a lifetime dwelling on it, others may not even appear to notice. This would be true of any group of people that lived through trauma, such as Vietnam War Veterans. It should be noted that adoptees are over represented in residential treatment centers.

The number of Adoptees in the adolescent and young-adult clinics and residential treatment centers is strikingly high. Doctors from the Yale Psychiatric Institute and other hospitals that take very sick adolescents have told me they are discovering that from one-quarter to one-third of the patients are adopted. (Lifton, 1988, p.45)

In recent years there have been more works written on the subject. In 1978 Sorosky, Baran, and Pannor wrote the Adoption Triangle. This was one of the first written books that spoke specifically of the psychological issues of adoption. In one reference book written for psychologist by Reitz and Watson (1992) it was noted:

Despite the proliferation in recent decades of the literature on both family therapy and adoption, there has been little focus on the treatment of families involved in adoption. We offer our approach both as one sample of the current state of the practice art and as a way to generate hypotheses. Little, definitive, formal research findings are available, we have cited them; we believe, however, that findings from practice are valid field research. The clinician’s skills in observing recurrent themes and patterns resemble those of the formal researcher who looks for patterns in statistical data. Both clinicians and researchers must then interpret their findings. (preface)

In the early 1960s Dr. Marshall Schechter, child psychiatrist, was challenged by social workers when he first made the observation that there were a disproportionate number of adoptees in his clinic ( as cited in Lifton, 1988, p. 44). He later teamed up with Brodzinsky to research the psychology of adoption and to write various books (1990, 1992) on the subject.

There are many books written by members of the triad (refers to the three sides in adoption; adoptive parents, birth parents, and adoptees) that are geared toward their triad peers. (Lifton, 1988 and 1994; Verrier, 1993). These are an excellent resource for triad members to begin to explore the issues of adoption. Although they are not written with psychologists in mind, they would be a good first step for mental health professionals to begin to also understand adoption.

In researching basic child psychology books, if adoption is mentioned, it is in the following context: “It should be obvious that neither I or anybody else knows enough about the psychology of adoption to offer any firm advice.” (Church, 1973)

Although there are both more studies and writings on the subject, mental health professionals remain ignorant of adoptees’ issues. Thomas Danner, PhD, a local family counselor, discussed some of his educational experiences and views on adoptees issues (personal communication, May 17, 1996). He stated he had not given the adoptees issues any prior thought. When presented with some of the repercussions of adoption, he was in agreement that these things could play into the emotional well being of the adoptee. He was open in disclosing that he had little knowledge of adoption issues and was willing to accept the ideas this paper has to present.

Betty Jean Lifton, PhD, Adoption Counselor/Author and adoptee, also commented on the subject (personal communication, May 20, 1996). When asked what lead to her studying adoption issues. Her reply was: ‘Are you an adoptee...then you know.’ This illustrates how most of the research done on adoption issues has been raised by someone who has been touched by adoption. It is easy to understand how someone who has not lived it, would not give the subject much thought. Mental health professionals need to be made to give the subject some thought or they will be doing a disservice to their adopted patients.

The first step to communicating the psychological effects of adoption to mental health professionals is to educate the public in general. There have been more recent books, movies, and such on adoption but they fail to acknowledge the special issues. Through accurate media representation, the general population can receive information needed to better understand the adopted person. In turn, the mental health professionals can begin to study the subject and explore alternate treatments for their adopted patients.

College and university professors need to begin teaching the special issues and treatments unique to adoption, just has they teach unique approaches to dealing with sexual abuse, divorce of parents, Attention Deficit Disorder, and the many other problems youth are faced with today. The subject must also be included in the college text books or the students must utilize the reference books written on adoption (Reitz & Watson, 1992; Brodzinsky & Schechter, 1990).

Adoptive parents must also be aware of these special issues so they can find a counselor who is trained to deal with them. Too often, counselors of adopted children are not aware that special issues exist and they attempt to treat the least disturbing problem and thus they fail to get to the core issue of adoption. Parents who called me have taken their child--usually an adolescent adopted at birth--from therapist to therapist, without ever having come upon one who is knowledgeable about adoption. The child now has become what Kirschner calls a “secondhand patient.” Therapists who do not see adoption as a core issue cannot reach the child. The Adoptee remains isolated and continues to act out... (Lifton, 1988, p. 273)

After realizing all the different issues adoption holds for their daughter, Mr. and Mrs. Smith received a referral for an adoption specialist in their area. They are now attending family counseling and making some progress toward their daughter’s recovery through open communication and understanding of the trauma she still experiences.

Works Referenced

  • Adopting Resources (1995) Common clinical issures [sic] among adoptees. [Online]. Available: World Wide Web,
  • Brodzinsky, D. M., & Schechter, M. D. (1990). The Psychology of Adoption NY:Oxford University Press, Inc.
  • Brodzinsky, D. M., Schechter, M. D., & Henig, R. M. (1992) Being adopted: The lifelong search for self. NY:Doubleday.
  • Church, J. (1973) Understanding your child from birth to three. NY: Random House.
  • Kaplan, L. J., (1978) Oneness and separateness: From infant to individual. NY: Simon & Schuster.
  • Lifton, B. J., (1988). Lost and Found: The adoption experience. (2nd ed.). NY: Harper and Row Publishers, Inc.
  • Lifton, B. J., (1994) Journey of the adopted self: A quest for wholeness. NY: Basic Books/HarpersCollins Publishers, Inc.
  • Reitz, M. & Watson, K., (1992) Adoption and the family system. NY: Guildford Publications.
  • Sorosky, A. D., Baran, A., & Pannor, R., (1978) The adoption triangle. NY: Anchor Press/Doubleday
  • Verrier, N. N. , (1993). The Primal Wound: Understanding the adopted child. Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, Inc
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     Adoption Disruption and Dissolution: Numbers and Trends




    Adoption Disruption and Dissolution: Numbers and Trends
    Author(s):  Child Welfare Information Gateway
    Year Published:  2004


    What is disruption?

    The term disruption is used to describe an adoption process that ends after the child is placed in an adoptive home and before the adoption is legally finalized, resulting in the child's return to (or entry into) foster care or placement with new adoptive parents.

    What is dissolution?

    The term dissolution is used to describe an adoption that ends after it is legally finalized, resulting in the child's return to (or entry into) foster care or placement with new adoptive parents.


    How many adoptions disrupt?

    Individual studies of different populations throughout the United States are consistent in reporting disruption rates that range from about 10 to 25 percent—depending on the population studied, the duration of the study, and geographic or other factors (Goerge, Howard, Yu, & Radomsky, 1997; Festinger, 2002; Festinger, in press). A few examples are listed below:

    • Festinger (in press) summarizes more than 25 reports on disruption rates and notes that the rates reported since the mid-1980s, despite some variations, do not differ substantially. Excluding studies that singled out small groups of older children, disruption rates have mostly varied from about 9 to 15 percent. Among older children, the reported rate has reached roughly 25 percent.
    • Barth, Gibbs, and Siebenaler (2001) reported in a literature review that studies show that between 10 and 16 percent of adoptions of children over age 3 disrupt; no comparable figures are available for children under age 3.

    • Goerge et al. (1997) conducted a longitudinal study of disruption and dissolution in thousands of public agency adoptions in Illinois from 1976 through 1994 and found that slightly over 12 percent disrupted.

    • Barth and Berry (1988) reported a disruption and dissolution rate of 10 percent for children older than 3 years in a group of more than 1,000 children adopted from the child welfare system in California. Berry and Barth (1990) found a disruption and dissolution rate of 24 percent for children ages 12 to 17 for a sample of 99 adolescents.

    • The U.S. Government Accounting Office (GAO) surveyed public child welfare agencies and reported that about 5 percent of planned adoptions from foster care disrupted in 1999 and 2000 (U.S. GAO, 2003). Researchers have questioned the validity of this finding because a minority of States responded, and States had differing capacities to respond as well as potentially differing interpretations of the requested information.

    Why do adoptions disrupt?

    Although specific causes of disruption may vary with each situation, the primary factors (correlates) in disruptions are well documented. Several studies have shown that the rate of disruption increases with the age of the child. Other correlates include the number of placements the child experienced while in foster care, the behavioral and emotional needs of the child, and agency staff turnover (Barth & Miller, 2000; Berry 1997; Groza & Rosenberg, 2001; Festinger, 2001; Smith & Howard, 1999). Research suggests that disruption is probably less likely when services have been provided (Goerge et al., 1997), although no direct links have been shown between particular services and disruption rates. However various service characteristics, such as staff discontinuities (different workers responsible for preparing child and family), have been linked to disruption (Festinger, 1990).


    How many adoptions dissolve?

    Accurate data on dissolutions are more difficult to obtain, because at the time of legal adoption, a child's records may be closed, first and last names and social security number may be changed, and other identifying information may be modified. The Federal Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) includes two data elements to show previous adoption for a child in foster care—whether the child was ever previously adopted and, if so, age at adoption—but those data are reported only for children in public foster care and do not capture adoption dissolution if the children do not come to the attention of the public child welfare system. Also, some researchers have observed that these data are inconsistently reported by the States. Studies consistently report that only a small percentage of completed adoptions dissolve—probably between 1 and 10 percent.

    • Festinger (2002) found that 4 years after adoption, about 3.3 percent of children adopted from public and voluntary agencies in New York City in 1996 were or had been in foster care since adoption. In most of these situations the adoptive parent reported an expectation that the child would return to their home again.

    • A study of children adopted in Kansas City showed that 3 percent of adopted children were not living with their adoptive parents 18 to 24 months after adoption (McDonald, Propp, & Murphy, 2001).

    • In a longitudinal study of families in Iowa who were receiving adoption subsidies, Groze (1996) found that 8 percent of the children were placed out of the home after 4 years. However, in all cases the families did not dissolve the adoption and were considered to be connected to and invested in the adopted child.

    • A study of public agency adoptions in Illinois reported that adoptions dissolved at a rate of 6.6 percent between 1976 and 1987 (Goerge et al., 1997).

    • The GAO reported that about 1 percent of the public agency adoptions finalized in fiscal years 1999 and 2000 later were legally dissolved. The report cautioned that the 1 percent figure represents only adoptions that failed relatively soon after being finalized, so the number of dissolutions could have increased with time (U.S. GAO, 2003).

    Why do adoptions dissolve?

    One study found that the rate of dissolution increased with the age of the child at adoption and was more common for male or non-Hispanic children (Goerge et al. 1997). Festinger (2002) reported that although dissolution is rare, families who adopt children with special needs from foster care undergo enormous struggles and face serious barriers to obtaining needed services. The two barriers most often mentioned by adoptive families were lack of information about where to go for services and the cost of services (Festinger, 2002; Soderlund, Epstein, Quinn, Cumblad, & Petersen, 1995).


    Are disruptions and dissolutions increasing?

    Data indicate that, contrary to concerns expressed by professionals about an increase in disruptions, disruptions in Illinois were decreasing before 1997 (Goerge et al., 1997). In a more recent study summarizing more than 25 reports on disruption rates, Festinger (in press) concluded that reported rates have remained fairly constant (with minor variations) since the 1980s.

    Professionals have expressed concern that recent public and private initiatives to increase adoptions and decrease time to adoption might lead to inadequate selection and preparation of adoptive homes. Those concerns have often focused on the shortened legal timeframes to file for termination of parental rights unless there was some exception required by the 1997 Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA). The U.S. GAO addressed this question of the impact of ASFA (2002, 2003), indicating that it was not possible to determine whether the increase in adoptions reported after ASFA reflects changes in data quality or actual changes in outcomes for children.

    Data Sources

    No national data are collected on the number of disruptions and dissolutions or the percentages of adoptive placements that end in disruption or dissolution. Most of the data that are collected are for adoptions from public agencies or those under contract from public agencies. No national studies are available on disruptions or dissolutions of intercountry adoptions or adoptions from private sources. There are no national data collected on the number of independent, private, or tribal adoptions.

    As mentioned above, while AFCARS includes two data elements to show previous adoption for a child in foster care—whether the child was ever previously adopted and, if so, age at adoption—those data are reported only for children in public foster care and do not capture adoption dissolutions if the children do not come to the attention of the public child welfare system. Also, some researchers have observed that these data are inconsistently reported by the States.

    Future Research

    What research still needs to be done?

    Most of the research to date has focused on narrowly defined populations or adoptions from public agencies. A number of researchers have called for the establishment of uniform terminology and more complete and accurate outcome data (e.g., see Evan B. Donaldson Institute, 2004; Groze, 1996; Goerge et al., 1997). Further research on the cause of adoption disruptions or dissolutions could foster design and delivery of more evidence-based postplacement preventive services to prevent dissolution.

    Additional research is needed in several areas:

    • Total numbers of disruption and dissolution for all adoptions, regardless of type

    • Links between pre- and postadoption services and disruption and dissolution rates

    • Causes of dissolution or disruption

    • Incidence of voluntary disruptions or dissolutions as a means of obtaining needed services for a child


    Barth, R.P. and Berry, M. (1988). Adoption and disruption: rates, risks, and responses. Hawthorne, NY: Adline de Gruyter.

    Barth, R. P., Gibbs, D. A., & Siebenaler, K. (2001). Assessing the field of post-adoption service: Family needs, program models, and evaluation issues (Contract No. 100-99-0006). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Barth, R. P., & Miller, J. M. (2000). Building effective post-adoption services: What is the empirical foundation? Family Relations, 49(4), 447-455.

    Berry, M. (1997). Adoption disruption. In R. J. Avery (Ed.), Adoption policy and special needs children (pp. 77-106). Westport, CT: Auburn House Press.

    Berry, M., & Barth, R. P. (1990) A study of disrupted adoptive placements of adolescents. Child Welfare, 69(3), 209-225.

    Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute. (2004). What's working for children: A policy study of adoption stability and termination. Retrieved November 15, 2004, from

    Festinger, T. (1990). Adoption disruption: Rates and correlates. In D. M. Brodzinsky & M. D. Schechter (Eds.), The psychology of adoption (pp. 201-218). New York: Oxford University Press.

    Festinger, T. (2001). After adoption: A study of placement stability and parents' service needs. New York: New York University, Ehrenkranz School of Social Work.

    Festinger, T. (2002). After adoption: Dissolution or permanence? Child Welfare, 81(3), 515-533.

    Festinger, T. (in press). Adoption disruption: Rates, correlates and service needs. In G. P. Mallon & P. Hess (Eds.), Child welfare for the 21st century: A handbook of children, youth, and family services—Practices, policies, and programs. New York: Columbia University Press.

    Goerge, R. M., Howard, E. C., Yu, D., & Radomsky, S. (1997). Adoption, disruption, and displacement in the child welfare system, 1976-94. Chicago: University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Center for Children.

    Groza, V., & Rosenberg, K. F. (2001). Clinical and practice issues in adoption: Bridging the gap between adoptees placed as infants and as older children. Westport, CT: Bergin and Garvey.

    Groze, V. (1996). Successful adoptive families: A longitudinal study of special needs adoption. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers.

    McDonald, T. P., Propp, J. R., & Murphy, K. C. (2001). The postadoption experience: Child, parent, and family predictors of family adjustment to adoption. Child Welfare, 80(1), 71-94.

    Smith, S. L., & Howard, J. A. (1999). Promoting successful adoptions: Practice with troubled families. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

    Soderlund, J., Epstein, M. H., Quinn, K. P., Cumblad, C., & Petersen, S. (1995). Parental perspectives on comprehensive services for children and youth with emotional and behavioral disorders. Behavioral Disorders 20(3), 157-170.

    U.S. Government Accounting Office. (2002). Foster care: Recent legislation helps States focus on finding permanent homes for children, but long-standing barriers remain (GAO-02-585). Retrieved November 1, 2004, from

    U.S. Government Accounting Office. (2003). Foster care: States focusing on finding permanent homes for children, but long-standing barriers remain (GAO-03-626T). Retrieved November 1, 2004, from


    Wrongful Adoption:

    Fraud By Adoption Agencies

    By Richard Alexander


    The first substantial recovery in California against a county adoption agency for its failure to disclose to adopting parents their adopted child's medical and psychological history occured in Forter v. San Mateo County. This adoption fraud case is not unique. There are many equally tragic cases that await the discovery of mental health professionals and the efforts of trial lawyers to help these families obtain the funding necessary for lifetime care.

    The Adoption Agency's Duty to Disclose

    The essence of an adoption fraud case is contained in Michael J. v. L.A. City Department of Adoptions (1988) 201 C. A. 3d 859, 876, which in recognizing an action for misrepresentation and fraudulent concealment of an adopted child's pre-adoption history, held that in an adoption "there must be a good faith full disclosure of material facts concerning existing or past conditions of the child's health." [Emphasis added.]

    Full disclosure is important because adopting parents are opening their homes, their financial resources and their hearts to a child and as a matter of basic fairness are entitled to full disclosure. More importantly, full disclosure by the adoption agency ensures that a child needing prompt intervention and treatment will receive it and that untreated conditions which could be aggravated can and will be resolved.

    California law provides that no agency shall place a child for adoption unless a written report on the child's background, if available, and, so far as ascertainable, the medical background of the child's birth parents, has been submitted to the prospective adopting parents and the prospective adopting parents have acknowledged in writing the receipt of such report. The written report on the child's background shall contain all diagnostic information which is known, including current medical reports on the child, psychological evaluation, and scholastic information, as well as all known information regarding the child's developmental history and family life.

    While vigorous advocacy for the victims of adoption fraud can provide valuable remedies, these cases are extremely challenging from both a legal and factual perspective. Here are some of the pitfalls to be avoided.

    Timely File a Claim

    As soon as the child's parent suspects fraud by a public adoption agency, a claim must be filed within six months to preserve the parents' claims for damages for lifetime support and within one year to preserve the child's cause of action.

    The time for filing a claim against the public agency begins to run as soon as a reasonable person should have been on notice of governmental misconduct. This defense is not summarily avoided because the issue is factual and each new fact uncovered concerning the child's history becomes a further piece of defense ammunition to be advanced against the plaintiff in light of all the surrounding facts.

    The pitfall to be avoided is inadvertently proving the defense in efforts to establish the parents' and child's claim for damages for emotional harm. While it may be true that the parents and child have suffered over the years as a result of the agency's misconduct, proving the parents' damage case by emphasizing the bizarre conduct of the child and the length of time it continued also helps to establish the defense that "anybody would have suspected" pre-natal injury, pre-adoption abuse, and the like. In short, because hindsight is perfect there is a natural tendency to assume that the adopting parents should have concluded that they have been defrauded long before they learned the truth. So keep in mind that while proving damages these same facts will be argued by the defense in support of its statute of limitations defense.

    In Forter the County repeatedly raised its limitations defense throughout discovery hoping to be able to develop enough facts to prove at trial that the parents should have suspected something was awry when their son's conduct began to become unacceptable, which was long before they filed their claim. It is reasonable to expect that this will occur in every case. Since hindsight is perfect, as the child's history of acting out comes forward it is important to keep it in perspective and within the context of the challenges of helping an adopted child adjust, often a lifetime process. Parents of adopted children must always struggle with making adjustments, and childhood conduct by itself without the benefit of knowing the child's history, medical background, and parental health care history does not lead to any meaningful action by parents. In addition, even with early referral to a child psychologist, without an accurate history the professional efforts of the therapist are dramatically less effective. Nonetheless, once the concealed history is revealed the etiology becomes so clear and compelling that it is easy for a lay person to mistakenly conclude that Mom and Dad should have suspected pre-adoption abuse, pre-natal alcohol or drug abuse by the natural mother, or the birth parents history of mental illness, and thereby provide the adoption agency with a good defense. An early claim disposes of this hazard.

    As soon as a parent suspects fraud by the placing agency, a claim should be filed immediately. As a practical matter, the real basis of the action will not be provable until counsel examines in deal the voluminous records created in every public adoption. These documents are only available with a court order once an action is filed, so do not delay in filing a claim at the very earliest moment because it is only after suit that plaintiffs' counsel will be able to verify the facts initially reported by the adopting parents.

    Plan for Substantial Case Costs

    Preparing an adoption fraud case, like any case involving damages in excess of a million dollars, is expensive because of the need for expert witness testimony. Knowing what resources you will need will help you prepare and assure a complete investigation before unnecessarily committing funds to a case where a recovery is problematic.

    Forter v. County of San Mateo required the testimony of the original treating psychologist who first saw the plaintiff when he was age three, the current child psychiatrist to testify concerning his current condition, prognosis, and the impact of the concealment of his psychiatric history and delayed treatment, a professor of social work on the failure to meet the standard of care in the original placement of the child, the treating pediatrician who had not been provided with the child's psychiatric records, a pediatric neurologist concerning the importance of a complete history in diagnosing childhood disorders, an adult psychiatrist concerning the plaintiff's prognosis in the absence of immediate special care, a psychologist/educational specialist who prepared a treatment lifeplan and presented the cost of services for the balance of this teenager's life expectancy, and an economist. There were several thousand pages of records to read from psychologists, several mental hospitals, Child Protective Services, AFDC files, adoption files and criminal records on the natural mother and total discovery came to twenty lengthy depositions. Pre-trial case costs advanced in Forter, exclusive of attorney's time, totaled $47,000. But for accepting the responsibility to pay these expenses and the anticipation that contingency fee would be approved by the court, this child's future psychiatric needs would remain unpaid.

    Inquiries at the Initial Client Meeting

    Review all records and begin writing a cogent history of every contact between the adoption agency and the family before and after placement. Your goal is to begin piecing together the history so that a detailed chronology will be readily available for reporting to your experts, for motions, settlement conference statement, and trial brief. In large part this history will not be finished until after the agency's adoption records have been produced.

    At the initial meeting find out what type of child the adopting parents initially requested from the adoption agency when they filed their application. What were they were told about the child's and his/her natural parents' medical and social history at the time of placement or adoption as required by Civil Code Section 224s?

    Is the child's condition today consistent with undisclosed prenatal abuse, fetal alcohol syndrome, pre-adoption physical, emotional abuse or neglect, or inherited mental illness? Has there been a failure to bond? Is the child abusive, rebellious, out-of- control, sexually active, or violent?

    Has the adoption agency admitted at any time that it failed to fully disclose or at any time after the adoption made any additional disclosure? Has the client demanded from the agency all records which may indicate the cause of the child's current condition? If so, when? How long has the client's statute of limitations time clock been ticking?

    Has the failure to disclose aggravated the child's condition or delayed securing appropriate treatment?

    Content of the Claim and the Complaint

    Under current law, a claim is treated as a pleading and must set forth, each party, each legal theory upon which a recovery will be sought and each item of damage.

    It is important to include as claimants both the child, the adopting parents, and any siblings who have also suffered as a result of the disruption to the family home caused by the adopted child's psychiatric condition.

    A claim must include each theory of liability and the supporting facts. In short, say more rather than less in explaining the basis of liability and the damages claimed. Since the essence of the action is delayed discovery, be especially careful to plead the date your client first suspected they had a cause of action against the adoption agency.

    The Government Code Section 818.8 and 822.2 grants public entities immunity from liability for negligent misrepresentation. The immunities apply only to interferences with financial or commercial interests, including issuances of permits or licenses. Johnson v. State (1968) 69 Cal.2d 782, 800. These immunities do not shield defendants from liability for misrepresentation or deceit in adoptions. Michael J., supra, at 872. So while the claim must include as grounds for liability willful misrepresentation and concealment, in order to secure the resources and participation of the agency's insurance carriers in any eventual settlement, the claim and the complaint to follow must plead the defendants' negligent conduct, negligent infliction of emotion harm and negligence per se for violating statutory duties.

    Claimed economic damages should include: past and future mental health care for life, including residential care; supervising advocate for life; life time home care and supervision; and lifetime lost wages for the child.

    Do not forget to include non-economic, general damages for every claimant.

    Although public entities as a matter of law are not subject to punitive damages for oppression and despicable misconduct, public employees can be held for punitive damages. So while punitive damages need not be listed in the claim, be sure to include a punitive damage claim against the individual tortfeasors in the final complaint.

    Relinquishment is Not the Exclusive Remedy

    The defendants will claim that the parents exclusive remedy is to relinquish their child under Civil Code Section 228.10 which provides that a petition to relinquish " shall be filed within five years after the entering of the decree or order of adoption." In most cases, the five year statute will have run years ago and the agency will claim it is insulated from suit.

    This argument is flatly contradicted by the express language of Section 228.10 itself. There is no mention nor hint in Section 228.10, nor in any case, that it was intended to be an exclusive remedy.

    The plain wording of the statute is that relinquishment is one option. The word used is "may:" "a petition setting forth those facts may be filed by the adoptive parents" and "If those facts are proved to the satisfaction of the court, it may make an order setting aside the decree or order of adoption." There is no mandatory language used in Section 228.10, and be sure to explain to the court when the defendant's motion is heard that the word is "may" not "must."

    The fact is that Section 228.10 (formerly Section 227(b)) dates back approximately fifty years. Yet claims for monetary damages have been approved for concealment and misrepresentation in the area of social services. In reversing Summary Judgment, the Michael J. Court specifically held at 875:

    • Under these circumstances, and recognizing deliberate concealment and misrepresentation would be actionable, we hold that Summary Judgment is improper. (emphasis added)

    Thus, case law approves of claims for damages and this statute offers no support for a wishful exclusive remedy defense. If the adoption statutes are to be liberally construed to promote justice and the welfare of the children, the statutes cannot be tortuously construed to insulate wrongdoers who conceal and misrepresent all to the harm of the child and their adopting parents.

    Defendants will also claim in support of an exclusive remedy claim that money damages awards will cause more children to be deemed "unadoptable" because they might later develop mental illness.

    The effect of exposure to money damages awards is to force full disclosure of information to the adopting parents in compliance with the law, and discourage the reprehensible concealment and misrepresentation seen in the instant case. After all, "just as couples must weigh the risks of becoming natural parents, taking into consideration a host of factors, so too should adoptive parents be allowed to make their decision in an intelligent manner." Michael J., supra, footnote 10. Adoptive parents should not be left to make the life-long decision of adoption with anything less than all the available information on the child.

    If the exclusive remedy argument were the law, adoption agencies could routinely withhold vital information from adoptive parents with impunity. Civil Code Section 224s would be rendered meaningless. Defendants could withhold information to facilitate the adoptive parents' agreement to adopt, and if the situation did not work out or the concealed information became known, the adoptive parents could only petition to vacate the order of adoption, but only if the adoptive parents petitioned within five years. Beyond five years the adoptive parents and the child would have no remedy for what will inevitably become a life-long tragedy for both. That is the true social cost of the concealment and misrepresentation that adoption agencies seek to protect from liability with their absurd exclusive remedy argument.


    Adoption fraud cases couple claims for psychiatric injuries to a child, with the claims of parents who have been emotionally and financially brutalized by an adoption that was expected to bring happiness to their home and family. Losing the expectation of a happy child and a wholesome home life and having it replaced with wholesale grief is an especially tragic injury to be inflicted on parents who opened their homes, families, financial resources, and their hearts to a needy child. The lifetime damage inflicted on children, leaving them only with the prospect of being anti-social and unemployable due to emotional injuries and damaged personalities, obviously leaves them as prime candidates for criminal activity, prosecution and imprisonment.

    The strength of the tort law is that it provides the jury a public forum to express the community's standard of accountability. In the wrongful placement of children for adoption, there are no emotional or psychological impediments to the jury's unleashing a roar of disapproval, once the legal hurdles have been overcome. Obtaining a recovery for a wrongfully adoption placement is requires informed and extremely vigorous advocacy.

    Current legal impediments to assure these victims full and complete psychiatric care should be removed. Our least protected citizens, orphaned children, deserve the best possible care by county adoption agencies and when that does not occur our Courts and Legislature should provide full and complete remedies to hold perpetrators of adoption fraud fully accountable.san francisco lawyers, personal injury attorneys san jose, attorneys san francisco, child injuries, mountain view

    Help for Adoptees suffering from Adopted Child Syndrome

    By Damon Marturion
    New Business News Staff Writer

    Palm Desert, CA -- What effect does the adoption process have on adoptees? This surely could cause severe psychological problems for adoptees as they go through life struggling with their search for their true identity.

    Youths from all walks of life struggle with some sort of identity crisis that results in a sociological disorder of one kind or another. Some seek comfort in illegal drugs, alcohol and gangs, while others are absorbed into the framework of society as those with mental or social disorders.

    There could be merit to statistics that suggest that a large cross-section of dysfunctional America may be led by adoptees, leading to the investigation and research of ACS (Adopted Child Syndrome).

    According to Rolling Stone magazine, 60-85% of internees at Coldwater Canyon Center for Personal Development, a psychiatric hospital, were adoptees; most were referrals from Juvenile Probation Department.

    June Idler of the Riverside County Juvenile Probation Department says, "45% of all felonies committed by juveniles are by adoptees." Not surprising considering the emotional struggle of being legally restrained from seeking one's birth parent(s).

    All but four states (Kansas, Alaska, Oregon and Tennessee) legally restrict adoptees from obtaining information on their birth parents. Some states have fines as high as $5000 for unauthorized disclosure from a sealed adoption record.

    Lori Carangelo was re-united with her son after an 18-year search and fights for the rights of other parents to do likewise. From her home in the desert, in Palm Desert, California, and without fee, she has helped over 10,000 families from all over the USA as well as other countries, to reconnect with missing relatives.

    The battle being waged is difficult because - let's face it - adoption is big business. An average adoption runs $60,000. Search agencies charge adoptees non-refundable fees that range from $300 to $3000 to locate one's birth parent regardless of success.

    You can find out more by visiting Carangelo's Web site at that also provides free links to onlin

    Adopted Child Syndrome (ACS)


    According to public opinion polls, most Americans agree that adoption is at least a "risk factor" to a child's developmental, behavioral and academic development. The belief that adoption has a psychology of its own is evidenced by clinical studies amassed both prior to and since the late 1940s when the states began making adoptees' origins secret.

    That adoptees are prone to specific behaviors referred to as "Adopted Child Syndrome," says famed attorney and Harvard Law Professor, Alan Dershowitz, is just another "abuse excuse" to avoid reponsibility for their actions, including felony crimes. But this is the same Alan Dershowitz who, in his op-ed piece in the LA Times, suggested using "Torture Warrants" -- court ordered to control what Dershowitz calls the "inevitable" use of torture by U.S. law enforcement in the "war on terrorism." He claims torture is "constitutional," regardless that it is also detrimental to a democratic society. He rationalizes that its sanctioning by warrant would make it more accountable and transparent. "If we are to have torture," he argues, "it should be authorized by the law." Notwithstanding that falsification of sealed birth records, and adoption itself, have never been deemed "constitutional" or democratic, Dershowitz seems to be missing the point of our profiling people who are victims of adoption abuse, not as an "excuse," but as a "reason" for the prevalance of sociopathology and violent crime among those whose lives were forever manipulated by adoption politics and lawyers "in their best interests."

    In 1953, Jean Paton, MA, MSW, a social worker and adoptee, conducted the first studies on families involved in sealed adoptions under the name "The Life History Center," in Philadelphia. In the June 1955 edition of the Western Journal of Surgery, Paton described "passive, hostile and dependent behaviors" in an adopted boy--behaviors she later defined and which would later be more widely known as "Adopted Child Syndrome." Her studies revealed confused, damaged children and families due to this secrecy based on ever-changing social work theory and political expediency. Subsequently, terminology such as "slave psychology" was applied to the adoptee "because he feels he must submit to the will of his adopters as a reflection of what they have done for him."

    In 1978, Dr. David Kirschner coined the term "Adopted Child Syndrome" as underlying "Dissociative Disorder," in his paper, "Son of Sam and the Adopted Child Syndrome," Adelphi Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy Newsletter, 1978)... and in the same year, the Indian Child Welfare Act (Public Law 95-608) was amended to provide adult adoptees of Native American heritage "different rights" than non-Indian adoptees.

    In the 1980s, adoptees who exhibited "Attachment Disorder" were further categorized as a "sub-set spectrum" of adoptees who, to varying degrees, exhibit eight specific antisocial Adopted Child Syndrome (ACS) behaviors -- according to noted psychologists, Kirschner, Sorosky, Schecter, Carlson, Simmons, Work, Goodman, Silverstein, Mandell, Menlove, Simon, Senturia, Offord, Aponti, Cross and others. However the "spectrum" is never defined, so it is argued that all adoptees are at risk due to the complexities of adoptees' dual identities and secret pasts. Although Brazelton referred to ACS as "malarkey" in the press, psychiatrist David Cooke said "Adopted Child Syndrome is simply a new name for a phenomenon that has been observed since the 1950's" (by Paton). The ACS behaviors most commonly referred to are:

    • conflict with authority (for example truancy);
    • preoccupation with excessive fantasy;
    • pathological lying;
    • stealing;
    • running away (from home, school, group homes, situations);
    • learning difficulties, under-achievement, over-achievement;
    • lack of impulse control (acting out, promiscuity, sex crimes);
    • fascination with fire, fire-setting

    By 1982, in children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

    for hyperactivity, a 17% rate of non-relative adoption was found, --or eight times the rate for non-adopted children -- and it was estimated that 23% of all adopted children would have ADD;. Today that percentage is much higher. As Jean Paton pointed out, "Do you have to be truant, or drop out of school, steal, get into juvenile detention homes, in order for people to realize that you need to have someone tell you about your origins?" Apparently the answer is still YES.

    Years laters Kirschner still maintained:

    "In twenty-five years of practice I have seen hundreds of adoptees, most adopted in infancy. In case after case, I have observed what I have come to call the Adopted Child Syndrome, which may include pathological lying, stealing, truancy, manipulation, shallowness of attachment, provocation of parents and other authorities, threatened or actual running away, promiscuity, learning problems, fire-setting, and increasingly serious antisocial behavior, often leading to court custody. It may include an extremely negative or grandiose self-image, low frustration tolerance, and an absence of normal guilt or anxiety." ("The Adopted Child Syndrome: What Therapists Should Know," Psychotherapy in Private Practice, vol. 8 (3) Hayworth Press, 1990)....

    Kirschner concludes his paper with "Finally, I believe that most adoptees have the same emotional vulnerabilities that are seen in dramatic form in the Adopted Child Syndrome, and that all adoptees are at risk."

    In 1992, David M Brodzinsky, Marshall D Schechter & Robin Marantz Henig, authored "Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search For Self." Using their combined total of 55 years experience in clinical and research work with adoptees and their families, the authors use the voices of adoptees themselves to trace how adoption is experienced over a lifetime. Studies have shown that being adopted can affect many aspects of adoptees’ lives, from relationships with adoptive parents to bonds with their own children.

    On September 23, 1992, Attorney Donald Humphrey, himself an adoptee, called attention to the Syndrome as a factor in cases where children murdered their adopters in "Violence in Adoption," a talk he gave at a conference of the American Adoption Congress.

    In 1993 and 1994, the Syndrome was used as a defense in two cases of juvenile adoptees who murdered their adopters. Kirschner, a child psychologist, identified the Syndrome as a contributing factor with regard to Patrick DeGellecke who was 14 when he killed his adopters by setting fire to their home.

    In "Heikkila," Courier News (NJ, front page story, 10-12-93), Laurence Arnold added that the Syndrome is further characterized by "an absence of normal guilt or anxiety about one's deeds" and newsstories that characterize young adoptees who killed their adopters as displaying "no emotion" or having "no remorse" support this. The New York Times account of Matthew Heikkila's crime, "How the Adoption System Ignites a Fire," by Betty Jean Lifton (3-1-94, p. 27), cites Kirschner as well as psychiatrist Arthur Sorosky, who helped set the precedent in the DeGellecke case with the Adopted Child Syndrome defense.

    Adoptees including Larry Swartz (Maryland), Patrick Campbell (Connecticut), and Tammy and Kathryn Tomassoni (Arizona), now adults, were tried and convicted "as juveniles" for the murders of their respective adopters but also are among the very few adoptees who, having served their sentences, were released from prison. They never killed again and were reportedly living "normal" lives. Swartz, who married and had a child, was well liked by the community who called him a caring person; he was only 37 when died unexpectedly of a heart attack in 2004. His compelling story is detailed in "The Second Life of Larry Swartz: Friends Remember Murderer as 'God's Gift to Life,'" by MarylandMissing, Websleuths forum at: Other adoptees, such as Heikkila and Marty Tankleff, who were juveniles when they murdered their adopters (in Connecticut and New York, respectively), were neverthless convicted "as adults" and remain in prison.

    Dr. Patrick J. Callahan, trained in both death investigation and psychological profiling, (Forensic, Educational and Neuropsychology and Child, Adult and Family Psychotherapy in Yorba Linda, California, and who has consulted on high profile cases such as the Jon Benet Ramsey murder case), offers the most intriguing and probably the most accurate assessment of the psychological dynamics of adoptees--particularly adoptees who commit violent crimes. He asserts that adoption, whether legal or illegal, is a dysfunction of kinship, and that the adoptee perceives many people in his world as "strangers." What he has seen in many adopted children is the beginning of a cycle of violence against adopters or strangers or both, as AmFOR's pages at and support. He believes there may be a reaction experienced by the adopted child that is the most primitive wound to the psyche, and is experienced at the very essence of his/her humanity even in adulthood. By and of itself, the adoptee's specific loss of the most elementary biological kinship, in the process known as adoption, may cause "paleo-psychological regression" experienced as uncontrollable rage deep from within his/her own ancient history which, when focused, may find its end as predatory violence.

    On 12-26-00, David Kirschner posted to the Internet newsgroup, alt.adoption:

    "Rather, I have repeatedly emphasized the Syndrome describes a sub-set of adoptees at the end of a spectrum--and not ALL adoptees."

    Not only does it appear that Kirschner has acquiesced under pressure to be politically correct via AdoptSpeak, but also, in that moment, he contradicted decades of his own research, beliefs and published statements. And, again, he does not define "the spectrum of adoptees," who have ACS, a point not lost on Kay Russell, anti-adoption activist, who posted a response to Kirschner under the screen name Saxon War Lord, as follows:

    "Dr. Kirschner, is the spectrum a graduation of these symptoms? Would ACS be the end of the spectrum you're talking about, like the MPD end of the Dissociative spectrum? What I mean is, I would not expect ACS to be at the end of a spectrum of all stable unaffected people, then suddenly a sub-set of affected adoptees. So the next sub-set on your spectrum would be 'pretty disturbed' but not 'as disturbed' as those with ACS -- and next to that sub-set and other sub-sets affected, but to a lesser degree, and on and on down that spectrum....clear on down to the other end of the spectrum where we'd find adoptees who 'fair pretty well despite being adopted.'"

    Kirschner never responded.

    Until the book, Chosen Children, and AmFOR's web page at made this information available, free on Internet, no one work had linked the majority of serial killers and others by the abnormality of their adoptive status. Increasingly, profilers, psychologists, sociologists, educators, journalists, script writers, defense attorneys and other researchers understand and explain adoptees' behaviors in the context of their adoptions.

    Chronological List of Psychopathology Studies


    David M. Levy, “Primary Affect Hunger,” American Journal of Psychiatry 94 (November 1937):643-652.


    Sydney Tarachow, “The Disclosure of Foster-Parentage to a Boy: Behavior Disorders and Other Psychological Problems Resulting,” American Journal of Psychiatry 94 (September 1937):401-412


    Edwina A. Cowan, “Some Emotional Problems Besetting the Lives of Foster Children,” Mental Hygiene 22 (July 1938):454-458.


    Robert P. Knight, “Some Problems in Selecting and Rearing Adopted Children,” Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic 5 (May 1941):65-74.


    Elsie Stonesifer, “The Behavior Difficulties of Adopted and Own Children,” Smith College Studies in Social Work, vol 13 (November-December 1942):161.


    Houston McKee Mitchell, “Adopted Children as Patients of a Mental Hygiene Clinic,” Smith College Studies in Social Work 15 (1944):122-123.


    E. Wellisch, “Children Without Genealogy—A Problem of Adoption,” Mental Health 13 (1952):41-42.


    Portia Holman, “Some Factors in the Aetiology of Maladjusted Children,” Journal of Mental Science 99 (1953):654-688.


    Bernice T. Eiduson and Jean B. Livermore, “Complications in Therapy with Adopted Children,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 23 (October 1953):795-802


    National Association for Mental Health, A Survey Based on Adoption Case Records (London: National Association for Mental Health, 1954 est.).


    Marshall D. Schechter, “Observations on Adopted Children,” Archives of General Psychiatry 3 (July 1960):21-32.


    M.L. Kellmer Pringle, “The Incidence of Some Supposedly Adverse Family Conditions and of Left-Handedness in Schools for Maladjusted Children,” British Journal of Educational Psychology 31, no. 2 (June 1961):183-193.


    Bruce Gardner, Glenn R. Hawkes, and Lee G. Burchinal, “Noncontinuous Mothering in Infancy and Development in Later Childhood,” Child Development 32 (June 1961):225-234.


    Betty K. Ketchum, “An Exploratory Study of the Disproportionate Number of Adopted Children Hospitalized at Columbus Children's Psychiatric Hospital” (Masters Thesis, Ohio State University, 1962).


    Povl W. Toussieng, “Thoughts Regarding the Etiology of Psychological Difficulties in Adopted Children,” Child Welfare (February 1962):59-65, 71.


    Frances Lee Anderson Menlove, “Acting Out Behavior in Emotionally Disturbed Adopted Children” (Ph.D., University of Michigan, 1962).


    Michael Humphrey and Christopher Ounsted, “Adoptive Families Referred for Psychiatric Advice,” British Journal of Psychiatry 109 (1963):599-608.


    Jerome D. Goodman, Richard M. Silberstein, and Wallace Mandell, “Adopted Children Brought to Child Psychiatric Clinic,” Archives of General Psychiatry 9, no. 5 (November 1963):451-456.


    Marshall D. Schechter et al., “Emotional Problems in the Adoptee,”Archives of General Psychiatry 10 (February 1964):109-118.


    H. J. Sants, “Genealogical Bewilderment in Children with Substitute Parents,” British Journal of Medical Psychology 37, no. 1964 (1964):133-141.


    H. David Kirk, Shared Fate: A Theory of Adoption and Mental Health (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1964).


    Frances Lee Menlove, “Aggressive Symptoms in Emotionally Disturbed Adopted Children,” Child Development 36, no. 2 (June 1965):519-532.


    Nathan M. Simon and Audrey G. Senturia, “Adoption and Psychiatric Illness,” American Journal of Psychiatry 122, no. 8 (February 1966):858-868.


    H. David Kirk, “Are Adopted Children Especially Vulnerable to Stress? A Critique of Some Recent Assertions,” Archives of General Psychiatry 14 (March 1966):291-298.


    Alfred Kadushin, “Adoptive Parenthood: A Hazardous Adventure?,” Social Work (July 1966):30-39.


    Shirley A. Reece and Barbara Levin, “Psychiatric Disturbances in Adopted Children: A Descriptive Study,” Social Work (January 1968):101-111.


    Marshall D. Schechter, “About Adoptive Parents,” in Parenthood: Its Psychology and Psychopathology, eds. E. James Anthony and Therese Benedek (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970), 353-371.


    Arthur D. Sorosky, Annette Baran, and Reuben Pannor, “Identity Conflicts in Adoptees,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 45 (January 1975):18-27.


    David Kirschner and Linda S. Nagel, “Antisocial Behavior in Adoptees: Patterns and Dynamics,” Child and Adolescent Social Work 5, no. 4 (Winter 1988):300-314.


    David Kirschner, “The Adopted Child Syndrome: Considerations for Psychotherapy,” Psychotherapy in Private Practice 8, no. 3 (1990):93-100.


    David Brodzinsky and Marshall Schechter, eds., The Psychology of Adoption (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).


    Nancy Newton Verrier, The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child (Baltimore, MD: Gateway Press, 1993).


    Katarina Wegar, “Adoption and Mental Health: A Theoretical Critique of the Psychopathological Model,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 65 (October 1995):540-548.


    Joyce Maguire Pavao, The Family of Adoption (Boston: Beacon Press, 1998).

    Come To My Garden is the background for The Illinois_Family_Rights_Association. The music is written by Lucy Simon and Marsha Mason for the 1999 Broadway Music "The Secret Garden."
    I hope you enjoy it.