This article explores the findings of a study on the role of the social worker in adoption with a focus on ethics, concentrating on the perspectives of adopted people, birth parents and adoptive parents. Their reflections challenge policy attempts that are framed around ‘new beginnings’ for children. The focus on hope in such policy projects fails to understand that hope inevitably co-exists with anger and loss. The concept of ethical trespass, with its recognition of the inevitability of harm, is explored in terms of its possibilities for recognising the lived realities for multiple stakeholders. The mitigation of ethical trespass requires social work practices that are characterised by humility, honesty and reflexivity.
- child protection
- social work