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Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare

Article about the "myth of separation" in the child welfare system

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I've mentioned before what a wonderful resource the Child Welfare Information Gateway Library subscriptions are to professionals, researchers and families.I subscribe to a number of their "Libraries" - adoption, permanency, prevention, well being, etc. Each month the CWIG gathers the newest research articles, practice guides and policy updates on a number of child welfare topics, and sends the subscriber a list with links to these resources. (Want to subscribe? Click here.)

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It was on the adoption library link that I came across this journal article by Annette Ruth Appell for the Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy.

Appell writes from the perspective of a legal scholar and as a former attorney working in family and juvenile court systems in Illinois, South Carolina, Nevada and Missouri. Appell's major argument in this paper is that the child welfare system has created a "myth of separation" - that parents are "fungible" (that is, replaceable in whole or in part for another of like nature or kind) and that the separation of children and their parents improves children's lives.

Appell argues that parents aren't just "replaceable" in the minds and hearts of children, that separating children from their parents ends up being a systematic way of blaming parents in a way that "individualizes and pathologizes deviations from middle class norms" rather than addressing systemic and social problems such as poverty and violence.

It's an intriguing article that challenges a lot of beliefs about adoption. Read the article here and let us know what you think!

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