Adoption under the spotlight of new University of Sussex research centre

The major challenges facing adopted children and their families will be the focus of a new research centre at the University of Sussex.

The Andrew and Virginia Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice is being established with a generous £1.5 million donation by Sussex graduate Andrew Rudd and his wife Virginia, whose interest stems from their own experience as adoptive parents.

Psychologists, social workers and education specialists at the University will be looking at the many and profound ways through which early separation or trauma followed by adoption shapes the lives of all those involved.

Specific areas of interest will include: 

  • How separation, institutionalisation, maltreatment and other trauma influence child development and family life in adoption
  • How new research insights in fields ranging from neuroscience to social policy can be used to inform practice
  • International adoption and cross-cultural placement

Head of the University's School of Psychology, Professor Pete Clifton, said: "Sussex already has world-recognised expertise in this field. We hope that an interdisciplinary approach, involving the latest research in social care, psychology and the life sciences, will help to solve some of the critical issues of adoption."

Professor Peter Aggleton, Head of the School Education and Social Work, said: "The Centre is going to have a very clear practical focus. We will be working in the community and with partner agencies to build a better quality of life for adopted children and their families."

Virginia Rudd said: "We are very excited to be working with Sussex on this critical project. Sussex brings an amazing array of talent and facilities that will enable the Centre to advance an important research and policy agenda to help inform the practical, everyday issues of adopted children and their families."

The new centre is also welcomed by John Simmonds, Director of Policy Research Development at  the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) said: "BAAF congratulate and are delighted to welcome the Universityof Sussex's new Centre for Adoption Studies.  Adoption touches a very significant proportion of the community in various ways. This new Centre will facilitate the further development of evidence-based policy and practice to ensure the very best of what we know and do influences this fundamentally life changing process. BAAF looks forward to supporting the Centre in its future work."

A new Professor of Psychology will be appointed to lead the work of the Centre.

Notes for editors

  • Andrew and Virginia Rudd established their Rudd Family Foundation in order to directly fund educational institutions' research. Andrew Rudd studied Mathematics at the University of Sussex in the 1960s. His is the co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Barra Inc. They live in California and London.
  • The Andrew and Virginia Rudd Centre for Adoption Research and Practice is one of the projects in the University's 50th anniversary fundraising campaign, Making the Future. Thanks to the generosity of alumni and friends of the University, over fifty per cent of the £50 million target of the campaign has already been pledged and received. The campaign will run until June 2016.
  • For more information, contact the University of Sussex Press Office, Jacqui Bealing or Maggie Clune, 01273 678888,
  •  National Adoption Week  is 31 October- 06 November

By: Jacqui Bealing
Last updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2011