7 Core Issues in Adoption & Permanency

Jul 26, 2020


North American Council on Adoptable Children


Adoption, foster and kinship care are important resources for addressing the needs of children in crisis.

The majority of adoptions today originate from foster care and kinship caregiving, which typically means the child has suffered trauma and/or neglect. Families built through foster, kinship care and adoption represent bittersweet forms of family building as they incorporate the joys and pain of both loss and gain. All members of the adoption/permanency constellation — which include adopted persons, birth/first parents, permanent parents, and extended family — experience lifelong intergenerational losses and complexities. How and when individuals are affected by both the positive and challenging issues of adoption and permanency depends upon many factors. These variables include personality, temperament, developmental stage at the time losses and/or trauma occurred, support systems, numbers of attachment disruptions, ongoing access to kin and whether there is open and honest communication between constellation members.

Seven Core Issues in adoption and permanency are experienced by all members of the constellation and include the following:

  • Loss
  • Rejection
  • Shame and guilt
  • Grief
  • Identity
  • Intimacy
  • Mastery and control

Awareness of these Seven Core Issues and the challenges and their accompanying tasks can help constellation members better understand how the experience of adoption/permanency has impacted their life and relationships. In addition, it allows constellation members to use this unifying lens to better communicate their own core issues and better understand other constellation members’ core issues. A parent’s understanding of the Seven Core Issues enables them to better address the complex challenges and feelings their child may experience throughout various stages of development. The Seven Core Issues were first introduced in the 1982 article “Seven Core Issues in Adoption” by Sharon Kaplan Roszia and Deborah Silverstein. Regardless of how a constellation member experienced adoption — whether losing a child, adopting a child, or being adopted — these lifelong complexities impact the lives of individuals and families. In 2019, Sharon Kaplan Roszia and Allison Davis Maxon expanded the Seven Core Issues to include all forms of permanency, as well as the additional impact that attachment disruptions and trauma has on constellation members. Regardless of your experience—whether you were adopted, fostered, or parented by an extended family member; whether you adopted or fostered an infant, child, or youth; whether you adopted from an agency, attorney, facilitator, or from another country; whether the adoption was open, semi-open, or closed; whether the loss of the child occurred voluntarily or involuntarily for the birth/first parents—these lifelong core issues will have an impact.

Explore further posts on our blog as we dive into each of these issues.