Tim Whewell investigates the challenges of life post-adoption, discovers the remarkable tenacity of many adoptive parents faced with challenging behaviour, and asks what changes are being made to improve the current situation, where a quarter of adoptive families face serious difficulties.
Thirteen years ago, Sarah and her husband adopted two brothers. The younger one had extensive therapy to guide him through a fixation with suicide. The older brother is now living away from the family following years of violence and the revelation that he had been sexually abusing the young son of family friends.
Ten years ago, Mary and Steve (not their real names) adopted two young siblings. The challenges they have faced - truancy, self-harming, drugs, violence - left Mary suffering from depression and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Today, they believe the worst is behind them. But they also believe that adopted children and their adoptive families are the 'poor relations' - compared to children in foster care or in children's homes - when it comes to allocating resources/providing services.
"It feels like you're abandoned once the children are placed for adoption with you - as if adoption is a magic wand - and that everything will now be OK," says Mary. "In reality it's very, very difficult."
Forty years ago, most adopted children were given up at birth by mothers escaping social stigma. Today, 70 percent of them come from care. As a result, many adoptive families today need significant support to overcome the history of abuse and neglect that children import into their new family. But they don't always receive it.
Produced by Geoff Bird
A Pennine production for BBC Radio 4.