What is Adoption Rehoming, Disruption, Dissolution?


IMG_0943_0494_494Often the three terms – Rehoming, Disruption, and Dissolution – are used interchangeably.  However, each has its own separate and specific meaning.

Adoption Rehoming is a non-legal term describing the practice of placing an adoptive child in another family’s home.  This is more commonly used in a situation in which no adoption professional was consulted, potentially no counseling sought and no background or clearances sought regarding the child’s new “family”. Often the child is “rehomed” because the adoptive parents are desperate due to their own family issues or the child’s behaviors or needs. An adoptive family that seeks this informal rehoming could potentially be charged with child abuse or neglect by their jurisdiction’s department of children/family (child protection) services.

Adoption Disruption occurs when a child is matched with a family and a legal process begins but prior to final placement the adoption is disrupted for various reasons and the child is not actually placed with that specific family.  This child may be adopted by another family or may stay in the government system.  Disruption may occur because the child’s process could not be completed due to biological families’ rights, incorrect paperwork, sickness/death or adoptive parents desires to not have the child placed with them (often due to additional information becoming known about the child and the child’s behavior or physical/mental needs).  Some adoptive parents disrupt a placement because they become pregnant, have a life changing occurrence, cannot afford the process or have a change in heart.

Adoption Dissolution occurs when a child is adopted and the adoption is dissolved.  The child will either be adopted by a second adoptive parent or go into the government system as a ward of the State.  Typically a Dissolution is due to the adoptive parent’s desires based upon the child’s needs and their inability to meet those needs within their family or desire not to meet those needs.

We observe adoption rehoming, disruption or dissolution most commonly with children adopted through foster care system or at an older age through international adoption.  These children may have more unknowns regarding their past trauma, abuse, neglect or medical conditions. Prior to considering adoption, all adoptive parents should consult their adoption service provider to determine if they are willing to accept the risks of adoption.

Adoption is the equivalent of having a biological child. Parents are responsible for raising and caring for their adoptive child under the law and as a moral obligation.  Adoptive parents should be prepared to accept the risks of adoption just as they would be willing to accept the risks of having a biological child. At MLJ Adoptions, we have recently implemented a Statement of Commitment when a family accepts a child referral (potential child for adoption). The Statement of Commitment focuses on the adoptive parents complete and undeniable understanding of the seriousness of the commitment no matter the needs of the child.

While I understand that families sometimes are not prepared or did not “get what they anticipated” in their adoption, I often think about my brother that is raising two boys with autism and recently lost another son to Lymphoma cancer.  While my brother’s children were all biological children he is completely committed to them no matter how extremely hard or difficult raising them can be. Their emotional and medical needs were not known when he accepted them into his family at birth.  While he may have known their chronological age he was not aware that they may not reach their chronological age expectations in their emotions or behavior. He was not aware of the expenses of their treatment or how they would affect this already born children. These were all unknowns that adoptive parents could face as well.  My brother never considers rehoming, disruption or dissolution nor should he have.

Parents do not know what challenges may be in their future for biological or adopted children; however, a parental commitment during the wonderful and difficult times is necessary for all children. An adopted child should receive the same commitment and love that a biological child receives from their parents.  All children deserve a parent that is committed to providing for the child no matter their needs.

Michele L. Jackson, JD taught the Hague Convention for five years as an adjunct professor at IU School of Law – Indianapolis in an advanced international family law course, She is the founder of MLJ Adoptions and frequent presenter on international adoption process, law and other related issues.