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Adoption Research Group

This is a special interest group within the Childhood research group in the School of Social Sciences at Cardiff University.

It is a multi-disciplinary group and core members are:

Dr. Julie Doughty, Cardiff Law School
Dr. Sally Holland, School of Social Sciences
Dr Heather Ottaway, School of Social Sciences
Dr Katherine Shelton, School of Psychology.

Members are actively engaged in research and policy and practice development in the field of adoption. Particular interests include children’s experiences of adoption, families’ support needs, siblings and legal processes. Methodological expertise encompasses qualitative and quantitative methods and includes participatory approaches, visual research methods, ethnography and prospective, longitudinal research designs.

Group activities include:

Julie Doughty is a member of the BAAF Legal Group Advisory Committee and co-author of Child Law for Social Workers in Wales,published by the Care Council for Wales. She has formerly worked as a solicitor for local authority children’s services and for Cafcass.  

Sally Holland is independent advisor to the National Assembly for Wales’ Children and Young Person Committee’s Adoption Inquiry. Sally is a qualified social worker with practice experience in the fields of children’s services and particular expertise in child and family assessment.

Heather Ottaway is a member of the Welsh Government’s Expert Advisory Group on Adoption. She completed her doctoral research on sibling relationships in adoption in 2012. Read her response to the Department for Education’s consultation on siblings in adoption here. Heather is a qualified social worker with practice experience in the fields of fostering and adoption.

Katherine Shelton is conducting the third wave of her research into relationships between family functioning and adoptive children’s psychological well-being.

The group has excellent links with Welsh Government, adoption agencies and voluntary support and campaign groups, including Adoption UK, After Adoption, St David’s Children Society, BAAF, SSAFA Forces Help Adoption Agency.

Post-graduate research

The group welcome applications from prospective research students in any area related to adoption.

Current doctoral students in the School of Social Sciences researching adoption:

  • Cecilia Love: Experiencing Transracial Adoption: A psycho-social exploration
  • Marja Kempenaar: Adoption Support Plans: Exploring the processes

Events in 2014

The role of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in supporting adoption:
Using the evidence-base to inform effective multi-agency adoption provision

Thursday March 13th, 4pm – 6pm, Glamorgan Building, Cardiff University

Public lecture delivered by Dr Matt Woolgar, a consultant clinical psychologist and academic researcher at Kings College London and a leading figure in the fields of adoption and fostering. 

Children adopted from care are likely to have a much higher rate of mental health problems than birth children yet many parents we see report significant difficulties with getting the right care, at the right time from CAMHS. This talk will examine some of the reasons why these difficulties can arise, including the emerging evidence from the neurobiology of maltreatment and neglect. Some recommendations will be offered for how the potential barriers to effective engagement with CAMHS services could be overcome, especially with regard to effective assessment approaches. Finally, the role of emerging partnerships between CAMHS and third sector organisations will be considered.

The event is free to attend and open to all. Please register at: 

Speaker profile
Dr Woolgar is Consultant Clinical Psychologist in the National Adoption & Fostering Service and the National Conduct Problems Clinic, Maudsley Hospital, SLAM NHS Foundation Trust, London. He is also a Senior Researcher with the National Academy of Parenting Research, in King’s College London in which he leads the evidence-based measurement of parenting program, and is a co-investigator of an RCT for a novel parenting intervention for children with callous-unemotional traits.

He co-leads the Parenting programme in the UCL-KCL Diploma for the DoH’s Children & Young Peoples’ IAPT, a multi-level initiative to transform children’s mental services through NHS, social care and 3rd sector partnerships. He recently designed the Maudsley’s assessment and treatment model for a new Social Impact Bond funded care package for adopted families in partnership with 3rd sector services.

Dr Woolgar was an academic in attachment and developmental psychopathology before training as a clinician. His current research interests include the application of evidence-based parenting programs to special populations, including looked after and adopted children and the correct identification of attachment disorders. Dr Woolgar has had a long-standing research interest in the impact of parental psychopathology on infant and child attachment and the measurement of attachment security beyond infancy.