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It changed my life completely: user views and experiences of post-adoption services

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  • Hq The Family. Marriage. Woman
  • Hv Social Pathology. Social And Public Welfare
  • Design
  • Psychology


This research study primarily explored the experiences and views of people with personal experience of adoption who have used post-adoption services delivered by a user-led organisation, the West Midlands Post Adoption Service (WMPAS). It sought to answer a number of questions about the work of a post-adoption agency. The key theoretical perspectives that informed the study were feminist, indigenous, Black and critical anti-racist, lesbian, emancipatory (research that is designed to enhance the power of service users), child-centred and evaluative research. This led to making WMPAS users' perceptions and experiences central to the research, and a commitment to hearing a range of different voices, in particular those who have hitherto been silenced. The study used a multi-method approach comprising qualitative methods, in the main. A design stage of user involvement was followed by: an analysis of initial enquiries; collecting data on the use of the WMPAS Support Groups; a postal survey of support group users; in-depth interviews with 41 WMPAS users; and specially designed work with an adopted child who had used WMPAS services. In addition, two focus groups with actual and potential users belonging to two marginalised groups were held: lesbian, gay and bisexual users and Black birth relatives. Key findings include that most users described great difficulty in accessing appropriate post-adoption services. However, the majority evaluated WMPAS services positively, particularly valuing the quality of relationship with WMPAS workers. Many said that the service had helped significantly with their mental health and with feelings about self. They identified multiple ways in which receiving a service had made a difference to their lives. The study highlighted the perspectives of several silenced groups: adoptees abused within their adoptive families: disabled, lesbian, gay and bisexual users: transracially adopted adults and Black birth relatives. It suggested ways for refining and developing service provision.

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