Adoption in the child welfare system — A cross-country analysis of child welfare workers' recommendations for or against adoption
This paper, through the vignette of a three-year old boy's case, examines how child welfare workers in three countries, Norway, England and the United States (California), decide whether to recommend forced adoption. Legislation and policy recommendations for the termination of parental rights and adoption vary among these three countries, but they all regard permanency for the child as the overarching goal for children in care. We find that a majority of the workers suggest forced adoption, and their main justifications were related to parental behaviour and their failure to fulfil visitation arrangements, followed by arguments about how adoption would provide both permanency and solid attachment for the child. It was Norwegian workers (41%) that decided against forced adoption, and their main objections were the lack of parental consent and the fact that forced adoption is uncommon in Norway. The findings of this study show that the reasoning of child welfare workers clearly reflects the policies and guidelines of their respective countries, which demonstrates the impact of each country's policy instruments. The workers' reasoning also reflects their knowledge of the basic premises for promoting adoption and permanency for children in care. As such, the state power that child welfare workers exercise rests on a rationale that is evidence oriented and extends beyond a mere reflection of policy guidelines and instructions.
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- Vinnerljung, Bo & Hjern, Anders, 2011. "Cognitive, educational and self-support outcomes of long-term foster care versus adoption. A Swedish national cohort study," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 33(10), pages 1902-1910, October.
- Parton, Nigel, 2009. "Challenges to practice and knowledge in child welfare social work: From the 'social' to the 'informational'?," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(7), pages 715-721, July.
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