About the study

‘From being adopted to becoming a parent: when adopted people become parents and adopters become grandparents’ focuses on adoptions (in England and Wales) within the last 30 years. We will be looking at the later lives of adoptive families as those adopted as children go on to become parents and adopters become grandparents: when the next generation arrives!

There is little currently known about the experiences and support needs of adopted people who are now parents. Neither have the experiences of adoptive parents as grandparents been studied. Given the changes in adoption over the last 30 years, we know adopted people will likely have been removed from their birth families where they were at risk from, or experienced adversity or harm. Therefore, as well as making sense of being adopted, this generation of adoptees may be living with long term effects of their difficult experiences in early life. Adoptees may also have had difficulties within their adoptive families.

Given the lifelong nature of adoption, important questions around the arrival of the next generation remain unanswered e.g. what is it like being a parent or grandparent after adoption? How might planning, expecting and being a parent affect how adopted people feel about their birth family? How will adopted people experience parenting their own child given their past histories? How will adoptive parents react to the arrival of a grandchild, and how will they see any role of birth grandparents?

This research will draw on theories about identity, risk and resilience in understanding the experiences of parents and grandparents. Beneficiaries of the research will include adopted people and their children, adoptive parents and also a range of practitioners, policy makers, and academics studying adoption, families, resilience and identity.

  • To provide a new understanding of the lived experiences and needs of people adopted from care who are now parents, and of adoptive parents who are now grandparents.
  • To use these insights to inform the support of adopted children and young people, adopted adults, and the children of adopted adults.
  • To inform future developments in adoption policy and practice.

The research will be a qualitative study of two generations of adoptions. The key elements of the research design are:

  • A review of the international literature relevant to adoptees as parents.
  • 40 in-depth interviews with parents who were adopted as children (20 men, 20 women)
  • 40 in-depth interviews with grandparents who adopted a child and whose adopted child is now a parent.
  • Involving stakeholders (adoptees, adoptive parents, professionals) in the design of the study, understanding the findings and shaping implications for policy and practice.
Adopted parents’ interviews findings

We are planning for emergent, interim findings to be available early in 2020. A summary of final findings will follow in late 2020.

Adopter grandparents’ interviews findings

Implications for practice will be available in late 2020. These will be developed in consultation with our three stakeholder groups of: adopted parents, adopter grandparents and professionals and wider research users.