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Can genomics remove uncertainty from adoption? Social workers' and medical advisors' accounts of genetic testing

Arribas-Ayllon, Michael ORCID:, Shelton, Katherine ORCID: and Clarke, Angus ORCID: 2022. Can genomics remove uncertainty from adoption? Social workers' and medical advisors' accounts of genetic testing. British Journal of Social Work 52 (2) , pp. 719-737. 10.1093/bjsw/bcab017

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Genetic testing is controversial in adoption with professionals taking different positions on whether children should be protected from genetic information or whether it can be used to assist adoption. In this article, we argue that advances in ‘genome-wide’ testing add further complications to these debates. Although next-generation sequencing (NGS) and microarray-based technologies can offer high-quality molecular diagnoses for a variety of conditions, they also increase the burden of interpretation. For these reasons, adoption professionals will need to understand the relevance and complexity of biomedical information. Our study explores the accounts of social workers’ and medical advisors’ knowledge and reasoning about genetic testing in adoption. Twenty participants, including social workers, managers, medical advisors and paediatricians, were recruited from adoption services in England and Wales. A key finding revealed that medical professionals reported increasing pressure to test children prior to adoption, whilst social workers justified testing on the basis that it reduced uncertainty and therefore assisted adoption. Professionals’ accounts of genetic testing suggest that social workers may not be aware of the potential indeterminacy of microarray and NGS technologies. This has important implications for adoption because increases in genomic uncertainty can stigmatise children and disadvantage their prospects for adoption.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics
Additional Information: This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( 4.0/)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISSN: 0045-3102
Funders: Wellcome Trust
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 3 March 2021
Date of Acceptance: 20 January 2021
Last Modified: 23 Jul 2023 17:58

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