This exploratory pilot study investigates the current practices and barriers to the provision of post-placement support services for adoptive parents in Toronto, Ontario, from the perspective of adoption workers. Focus groups were conducted with adoption practitioners at two child welfare agencies in Toronto. Adoption workers were recruited through electronic flyers, resulting in a sample of 18 workers who participated in one of two semi-structured focus groups. The groups were recorded and transcribed, and data were analyzed according to a descriptive phenomenological approach. Workers felt that many adoptive parents were poorly prepared for the stress that accompanied parental demands, perhaps due in part to the suddenness and unpredictable nature of the transition to adoptive parenthood. One of the key challenges preventing adoption workers from providing support to address this parenting stress was the parents’ unwillingness to disclose the challenges they were facing during the post-placement period. Even when parents acknowledged their need for support around parenting stress, workers felt that there were additional barriers to the provision of this support, such as the unavailability of appropriate social service resources. Workers also identified many challenges that pertained to systemic processes within the child welfare system, including their inability to support parents post-placement due to other job-related demands, and the surveillance of parents in the early post-placement months. Overall, workers clearly articulated their desire to have a role in families’ well-being over the long term, as well as an awareness of the challenges that families face beyond six months post-placement, particularly when their formal involvement with families end. The lack of financial support from child welfare agencies after six months post-placement is problematic, especially given the lack of publicly funded support and adjustment services targeted to adoptive parents in Toronto.
British Journal of Social Work, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp. 57–73.