IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

Adoption in the child welfare system — A cross-country analysis of child welfare workers' recommendations for or against adoption


  • Skivenes, Marit
  • Tefre, Øyvind Samnøy


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Skivenes, Marit & Tefre, Øyvind Samnøy, 2012. "Adoption in the child welfare system — A cross-country analysis of child welfare workers' recommendations for or against adoption," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(11), pages 2220-2228.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:11:p:2220-2228
    DOI: 10.1016/j.childyouth.2012.07.013

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Skivenes, Marit & Thoburn, June, 2016. "Pathways to permanence in England and Norway: A critical analysis of documents and data," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 152-160.
    2. Križ, Katrin & Skivenes, Marit, 2013. "Systemic differences in views on risk: A comparative case vignette study of risk assessment in England, Norway and the United States (California)," Children and Youth Services Review, Elsevier, vol. 35(11), pages 1862-1870.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:cysrev:v:34:y:2012:i:11:p:2220-2228. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.