Adoption Disruption and Dissolution

What is disruption?

Disruption describes an adoption that does not continue to completion, resulting in the child's returning to foster care or to another set of adoptive parents.

What is dissolution?

Dissolution describes an adoption that fails after finalization, resulting in the child's returning to foster care or another set of adoptive parents.

How many adoptions disrupt?

Most adoptions do not disrupt before legalization; more than 80 percent remain intact.

Most adoptions do not dissolve; more than 98 percent are not terminated after legalization.

Very few adoptions are contested -- less than 0.1 percent each year.

Adoption disruption and dissolution percentages have remained relatively consistent over the past 15 years, ranging between 10 and 20 percent, depending on the type of adoption. Disruption can range as widely as 3 to 53 percent, depending on the group being studied and the calculating techniques used.

What kinds of adoptions disrupt?

•Less than one percent of infant adoptions disrupt.
•From 10 to 12 percent of adoptions of children ages three and older disrupt.
•Among children placed for adoption at ages 6 to 12, the disruption rate is 9.7 percent.
• Among children placed for adoption at ages 12 to 18, the disruption rate is 13.5 percent.
• Among children of any age with special needs placed for adoption, the disruption rate is 14.3 percent.

Placements of older children, children with histories of previous placements and longer stays in the foster care system are more likely to disrupt. The disruption rate increases as the age of the child at the time of adoption increases.


The overall decrease in disruption percentages in 1988 from 1984 can be traced to the introduction of post-adoption services, an important factor in containing the number of adoption disruptions.

Source : National Adoption Information Clearinghouse

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