This paper aims to highlight inequality in current adoption processes and procedures in England and Wales. Whilst inequality has been recognised in adoption research, the role of social structures is often neglected. Inequality within social structures plays a role in the process of the permanent removal of children to be adopted and is worthy of further attention. Birth parent voices can contribute to a wider understanding of adoption, but often remain hidden. Empirical research findings highlight how birth parents may find that their adverse experiences are exacerbated by the adoption process, the emotional impact causing existing problems to increase, and through the impact of the adoption process on birth parent’s socio-economic status. Findings also illustrate how birth parents’ experiences were influenced by ideals of motherhood and ideas about ‘risk’ to children. The paper contributes to the growing area of research which illuminates the intersection of poverty, deprivation and child protection services and the wider contemporaneous debate concerning adoption in England and Wales.