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Hodges, J. Bolletti, R. Salo, F. Oldeschulte, R. (1985). ‘Remembering Is So Much Harder’: A Report on Work in Progress from the Research Group on Adopted Children. Bul. Anna Freud Centre, 8(3):169-179.

(1985). Bulletin of the Anna Freud Centre, 8(3):169-179

‘Remembering Is So Much Harder’: A Report on Work in Progress from the Research Group on Adopted Children

Jill Hodges, Rosetta Bolletti, Frances Salo and Rudolph Oldeschulte


Increasingly, in the Research Group on Adopted Children, we have found ourselves discussing issues relating to children adopted rather later in life than infancy or early childhood. This reflects a real social change: adoption in early infancy is less and less the norm as increasing numbers of older children are placed in families, sometimes after a history of considerable disruption.

In an earlier report we described the specific case of one adolescent studied by the group and the issues arising as she confronted the possibility of foster placement in adolescence. We felt that the analytic material in this case gave us a way of looking at a growing social practice, not from the point of view of social agencies but from the point of view of the child, and we applied ourselves to five themes prominent in the material: conflict over dependence, fear of rejection, anger and the wish for revenge, the repetition of earlier experiences of helplessness, and the process of mourning. We felt it would be interesting, therefore, to summarize some points arising from our study of the treatment material of late-adopted children after rather than before their placement.

One of the ways in which late adoptions differ from adoptions in early infancy is that in late adoptions it is not just the adoptive parents, it is also the child who brings to the adoption placement conscious expectations and unconscious wishes in relation to the new family. In addition, the older child may have experienced a series of losses, not only of objects but of a whole familiar milieu, and as a result may feel powerless to affect the decisions imposed by adults upon his or her life. Another difference, and one likely to become more widespread with the increasing emphasis on ‘inclusive’ models of adoption, is that the child may have some continued, if minimal, contact with former parent-figures or biological parents.

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