Making and Breaking Family Life: Adoption, the State and Human Rights

Sonia Harris-Short

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the extent to which the state's duties and responsibilities in the context of adoption are framed and reinforced by a rights-based discourse. It argues that the human rights paradigm plays an invaluable role in the pre-adoption process by identifying and imposing ever more exacting obligations on the state - obligations which are currently not being fully met by the Adoption and Children Act 2002. The application of a rights-based discourse to the post-adoption context proves, however, to be considerably more problematic. Indeed, it is argued that rather than extend and strengthen the state's responsibilities towards the child and the adopted family, liberal rights-based doctrine tends towards a more traditional model of adoption in which a minimalist state and the privacy, autonomy, and self-sufficiency of the new adoptive family are further entrenched. It is thus concluded that a human rights analysis provides no secure basis for challenging the Adoption and Children Act's rather limited provisions on post-adoption support.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)28-51
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Law and Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


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