Project: Researching Adoption Support

Date: 2005 – 2010

Funder: Department for Education

Research Team: Dr Beth Neil, Julie Young, Clive Sellick, Paula Lorgelly, Jeanette Cossar, and Christine Jones

This study was a response to new adoption legislation aiming to improve adoption support services. This research project explored how agencies were translating these policy objectives into practice, providing an evidence base for further development. The project focused on two types of support services: those provided to support the birth relatives of adopted children; and those provided to support face-to-face post-adoption contact between adopted children and members of their birth family. The first stage of the research mapped support service provision in these two areas across England and Wales.

The second stage consisted of two separate studies: the "Helping birth families" study explored the provision of support services for the birth relatives of adopted children, and 73 birth relatives took part in the study. A survey of the take-up of these support services was carried out with participating agencies. Birth relatives were followed up over a 15 month period and the project's attempted to look at whether receiving (or not receiving) support service made any difference to how birth relatives coped with adoption, and to their mental health. The project also costed birth relative support services.

The "Supporting direct contact after adoption" study followed up families whose children were having face-to-face contact with birth relatives and where adoption agencies were involved in supporting this contact. 55 adoptive parents and 39 birth relatives took part. The study describes the services to support contact that people received, and their views about these. The study also describes how adoptive parents and birth relatives experienced contact arrangements and how well they felt contact was working out for the child.

The adoption research initiative website contains further information.


Neil, E. (2007), Supporting post adoption contact for children adopted from care: a study of social workers' attitudes. Adoption Quarterly, 10, (2/3), 3-28.

Neil, E. (2010) The benefits and challenges of direct post-adoption contact: perspectives from adoptive parents and birth relatives. Aloma, 27, 89-115. ISSN: 1138-3194

Neil, E., Cossar, J., Jones, C. Lorgelly, P. and Young, J. (2011) "Supporting direct contact after adoption". London: BAAF