Child Abuse & Neglect

Child Abuse & Neglect

Aims and scope of the Special Issue

The main aim of this special issue is to explore and examine the nature of the relationship between adoption and trauma. At one end of the spectrum, this relationship is understood to be responsive, i.e. adoption is an ethical and measured societal response to experiences of early childhood adversity and trauma, often leading to substantive developmental recovery from the impact of previous traumatic experiences, whilst at the opposite end of the spectrum, the relationship is understood as causative; i.e. adoption itself can be inherently traumatic for the child. In between, there is a multitude of differing perspectives, which in isolation can paint a rather confusing and ambiguous picture of the relationship between these two life experiences. It is this confusion and ambiguity that is the central focus of this special issue. By bringing together a body of empirical research and critical/experiential perspectives, from across the spectrum of opinions and conceptual standpoints, this special issue seeks to clarify in explicit terms the nature of this relationship.The scope is intended to be broad. Despite the research and clinical backgrounds of the three co-editors, whose work and experience has often addressed differing ways of understanding the relationship between adoption and trauma, no specific position on the nature of this relationship will be privileged, and all research, scholarship, and critical/experiential perspectives are welcome. It is only by doing so that we can expect to achieve a balanced and informed perspective. The connection between adoption and trauma is often viewed as dependent upon the nature of adoption under consideration. For example, domestic adoptions from the foster care system are undertaken to ensure permanency, stability, nurturance, and safety in the lives of children who frequently experience early inadequate care and/or trauma. Children adopted from other countries not only experience similar early adversity, but also cultural and linguistic disruption at the time of placement. Domestic infant adoption, however, typically is associated with fewer pre-placement adversities, although issues related to prenatal complications are often a focus of concern. Furthermore, there is considerable variability within each of these types of adoption, associated with differences in children’s age at placement, whether the child and adoptive parents are of the same or different race or ethnicity, and differences in national policies and practices regulating adoption. In addition, how adoption is experienced by the person may vary as a function of their developmental level, with younger children considered to have more naïve and incomplete views of adoption than older children, adolescents, and adults. We would like to reflect as much of this complexity and variability as possible in this special issue. Furthermore, submitted research does not necessarily need to have been developed specifically to examine the issue of trauma for adoptees, but simply that it can allow for an evidence-based reflection on trauma, either prior to adoption, whilst adopted, or for adult adoptees. For example, the research could be focused on wellbeing, rather than trauma. Yet, the measures used to examine wellbeing may enable a consideration of the role of trauma in the lives of adopted persons. We are content to leave the definition of trauma to authors, rather than imposing a particular definition that papers would need to be constructed around. However, we would request that authors make explicit reference to their particular definition of trauma, and where this has been sourced. In addition to reports of empirical research, literature reviews, and critical commentaries, we would also like to allow space for experiential perspectives from professionals who have been working clinically with adoptive family members, as well as from adopted persons themselves who can provide a first hand and intimate account of how being adopted has impacted their sense of self, relationships, and emotional well-being, and can speak directly to the relationship between adoption and trauma. Finally, we encourage submissions from around the world. It is only by considering the widest array of data, critical commentaries, and personal experiences can we hope to come to a deeper understanding of the complex relationship between adoption and trauma.

The Journal’s submission system will be open for submissions to our Special Issue from 01 June 2020. When submitting your manuscript please select the article type “VSI: Adoption and Trauma”. Please submit your manuscript before 01 February 2021.

All submissions deemed suitable to be sent for peer review will be reviewed by at least two independent reviewers. Once your manuscript is accepted, it will go into production. When all articles in your Special Issue are ready, we request the editorial and order of papers from Guest Editors which will be sent to Journal Editor approval and then sent for typesetting. Journal Manager will plan the issue in the immediate available issue and proceed with the publication process.

Please ensure you read the Guide for Authors before writing your manuscript. The Guide for Authors and link to submit your manuscript is available on the Journal’s homepage at:

Inquiries, including questions about appropriate topics, may be sent electronically to Dominic McSherry.

See further guidance for authors on Dr McSherry's home page: