Adoption stories from the Tories: Part 1

The Prime Minister wants you to think about babies. Specifically, babies that are not yours. In National Adoption Week, David Cameron has been all over the media pulling at heart strings, telling us of the appalling figures relating to adoption, and telling us he dreams of:

‘a real culture change to be more pro-adoption. For many children it is the right answer’.

The Daily Mail (natch) and most of the papers fell for the guff he has been spouting, but some of us are more cynical. And know how to wade through statistical bullshit, whilst also recognising that the reason the Prime Minister is concerned about adoption is because it is cheap.

If kids in care aren’t adopted, they remain in care, and that costs a small at-least-six-figure-each fortune per year, whereas adoption has no ongoing costs to government at all. Oh, wait, I forgot, there is child benefit. That is, the princely sum of £20.30 for the first child, and £13.40 for each one thereafter, per week.

Starting with the stats, on the face of it they are appalling, and if they were the whole picture, the reaction in some quarters of the press would be bang on. If they were.

Apparently, in the year ending 31.3.11 there were 65,520* ‘looked after’ children. Of those, 3,050 were adopted, which works out at 4.65%. Sixty of those were under one – 0.09% of the overall total. 2170 were aged 1-4 – 3.31% of the overall total.

Firstly, the 65,520 figure is not the number of children who became looked after in the year ending 31.3.11. Rather, it is the cumulative total of all children looked after.

Secondly, it overlooks the total number of children who left care for reasons other than adoption, which in that timeframe was 26,830. Therefore when talking about the adoption figures in the context of the number of looked after children, we should be using a figure of 38,690, as that was the number of looked after children left, taking all care leavers into account. That means that as a percentage of the children who ceased being looked after, adoptions actually accounted for 11.37%.

Thirdly, not all ‘looked after’ children are a) legally available for adoption or b) capable of being adopted.

A ‘looked after’ child is one who is either

  • accommodated voluntarily (i.e. with parental consent and not subject to an order);
  • subject to an interim care order (proceedings are progressing but are not yet finalised);
  • subject to a care order (proceedings have finished);
  • subject to a care order where a placement order has been made.

Only children who are subject to care orders where a placement order has been made are legally available for adoption.

It is not easy to see from the available figures what the numbers of children legally available for adoption are, but the numbers of children who are not legally available for adoption in the remaining 38,690 will not be insignificant.

Then we turn to the biggy. The children who are not capable of being adopted. The children who the readers of newspapers do not know exist, and the children who politicians have no desire to educate anyone about, even when bleating and hang wringing.

These kids could only aspire to be the ‘feral youth’ the government told us existed during the rioting in the summer. They are forgotten, uncared about and written off before puberty, never mind adulthood.

Kids who end up adopted are care kids. Care kids are abused kids. Lose the romanticised image of kids who are adopted being pink, plump, perfect swaddled babies, given up voluntarily by parents who recognise they can’t look after them, wishing for a better life for them.

These are kids who, if lucky, have ‘only’ been neglected. Kids who come from neglect are largely the ones who require the least work to get them to a stage where they don’t frighten prospective adopters. Affordable work, that doesn’t take too long, so they get it quickly. They will be a large proportion of the 3,050 who were adopted.

The kids who have been subjected to emotional, physical or sexual abuse? Well, they are pretty much written off. Of course, the overall plan is for adoption – to achieve a new family and stability for them is on everyone’s wish list. But when their method of demonstrating they are in pain and need help is smearing faeces on the wall, or destroying anything they come into contact with, or lashing out at younger children, well, they are pretty hard to place. And they require a lot of work, usually long term. Which costs money. More money than most local authorities can afford.

So they don’t get placed. If they are lucky they may get some of the work the experts identified for them before they leave care. If not? Well, eventually they hit 10. When they act out at 10, the local authority start calling the police, and the kids eventually end up going through the criminal process, and that is it. Game over: let the new cycle begin – that of offending, substance abuse, having kids of their own that are taken into care.

The government’s answer? They are going to force every local authority to publish:

  • How many children get adopted;
  • How long it takes to get adopted;
  • How successful their foster care placements are;
  • How well they do at school.

Great. Can you see in that list ‘more money for the necessary theraputic work to ensure more children are capable of being adopted’? No, me either. But hey, we’ll get some numbers, the Daily Mail can be outraged at ‘failing’ authorities, and the government can wring their collective hands a bit more. Oh and protip: the ‘failing’ authorities will be the most deprived authorities – the ones who take more kids into care due to child abuse and the correlation with substance abuse and deprivation, and have the least money to get them adoption ready.

One of two things will happen. Local authorities will resign themselves to be deemed as ‘failing’; unable to fight the government PR machine. Or, they will place children with unprepared, unsuitable adopters. Folk whose hearts are in the right place, but not able to cope with the reality of a care kid. Then the adoption will break down, and we end up with an absolutely broken child, back on the care scrapheap.

So, when Mr Cameron tells you of his horror at the 4.65% of children who are adopted, ask him about the 95.35%. They are the ones who we should be very concerned about.

*Figures from the Guardian

29 thoughts on “Adoption stories from the Tories: Part 1

  1. Well done and thank you for the Facts, Facts and the Facts,
    they always get in the way of the Tories and the Capitalist ruling class!

  2. First off I will admit that being abroad at the moment I have not seen all the arguments, and spin etc. as the interweb news is limited.

    But, to me there is a point to adoption that is missed in almost all I have read, including your piece here. Where is the mention of the mother choosing adoption?
    I, and my 2 sisters (all no relation) were adopted in the 60s / 70s at birth, or within days – where has this part of adoption gone? Why is this not a valid option, why only focus on those babies / children at risk and in the “system” already?

    No one hates the tories more than me, but I think that adoption as an “option” is rightly raised in the public eye.

    Many things influenced my life & yes even existence – the pill, abortion etc, but none more so than being adopted by loving parents – more loving than most, as they went out of their way to have children, 3 of us.

    Of course I care about those in the system and broken families and homes where the cycles are there almost from birth, but to ignore the mothers who actually want to give their children for adoption, and the people who want to adopt them I find odd to say the least.

    • Firstly, as I say in the piece, that type of adoption is now very rare – seen off pretty much by emergency contraception, abortion and state benefits. Secondly, the Prime Minister was talking about adoption in the context of children who are in local authority care, hence why this post focuses there.

  3. Whilst I am pleased you’ve dug out the truth from an otherwise predictably shady bit of political grandstanding by the Tories. What worries me is that nit-picking over numbers isn’t going to motivate potential adoptors to come forward to adopt the children that are waiting. And that’s the crucial message to get out there this week surely?

    Having been let down by the system in this country, okay having been turned down by five separate local authorities for adoption because my husband and I were white (yes unbelievable isn’t it?!) , our family had to pursue our dream of adopting in a foreign land. I’m not going to pretty this up either – we had to sell our house to do it. Our friends thought we were nuts. Maybe we were. But we were also lucky that we persevered. That we didn’t, along with thousands of well-meaning potential adoptive parents, just give up.

    The system is broken not just because as you put it the vast majority of looked after children are not cherubic babies/toddlers as we’re being led to believe – or indeed even available for adoption. But also because individuals and entire departments within the adoption services system are so concerned about matching ethnicity, race, culture etc that the truth is these children will stay in the care system and miss that crucial window where they are seen as ‘adoptable’.

    Finally, suggesting that these children will be placed with un-prepared families is to assume that preparing for adoption can be fast-tracked or side-stepped (as they seem to do in the States). It’s long-winded, intrusive, and constant. And that’s as it should be. There are prepared parents waiting to be matched. Make no mistake about that. And if it’s possible to fly to Ethiopia, China, Russia or wherever to adopt any race or ethnicity of child, if you have enough money, most of which are highly successful adoptions then it’s time we enabled families rather than hid behind figures or issues.

    This is such a shitty, crappy system that for the first time since the dreaded coalition shammed their way into power – I am glad to see any politician call for some accountability at last – it can’t be any worse a situation than we’ve had for the last how ever many years. Our governments and our child services systems let those children down. And having already been let down by their birth families, they are experiencing another more insidious form of neglect on a national scale. Rant over.

    • As I mentioned to you on Twitter, this post is the first in a series, looking at the public law aspects of child law. In no way should it be seen as attempting to put off adoptive parents – I wish more would come forward!

      In terms of your experience, ah. Yes. I have similar experience (I was a barrister, my practice was care/adoption). Research sometime in the mid-late 80′s showed us that children fared better if we placed children in line with their ‘cultural heritage’. That then turned into accepted practice, then best practice, then enforced practice, that if stepped outside required lengthy explanation.

      This meant that firstly, we would have to go through the rigmarole of ascertaining what that was (not easy when often mother doesn’t know who the father is). Once determined, the next step, once the child was legally ready for adoption, and capable, was finding matching adopters.

      While the view of the social worker on the ground was always pretty much ‘we care not, these are great parents’, the child’s guardian, who allegedly acts in the best interest, would often voice disquiet. If the guardian wasn’t happy, they passed this on to the judge, who would have to have very good reason to go behind that ‘expertise’.

      Even if the guardian didn’t do it, the adoption panel would, seeing adoption with parents of a different ‘cultural heritage’ as been sub optimal.

      I agree with you – it has now become madness. My view is when the child first goes before panel, if there are matching adopters as per cultural heritage, great. But if within 6 weeks no match is found, the search should be widened. And widened, and widened, until adopters are found.

      Turning to your point about unprepared adopters, I stand by that. I have seen too many adoptions broken down because adopters simply were not prepared for the level of damage the child had sustained, and how that manifest itself. In terms of successful adoptions from outside the jurisdiction, that is largely with children who have been given up at birth, and therefore not been through the horrific experiences many of the children available here have.

      Overall, I agree with you that they are receiving neglect on a national scale, and hope more people become aware of this.

      • Maybe its time to look at the system and change it as a whole. You could use specialized foster parents who are trained to work with and deal with the kids that have huge problems.
        Helping the kids deal with what’s gone on in there lives is not the normal and setting them up so they can be adopted in a way that won’t lead to failure.
        The greatest pleasure I get with my foster kids is seeing them just be kids again, not worrying about looking after there patents or were there next meal will come from.
        I had a great childhood and willingly try my best to help these kids as they come through my home, they form great bonds with my wife and I as well as my own two young boys.
        The children can and should be helped so that they can be adopted

        • In fairness, there are such things as specialised foster carers, but of course, they are expensive (often, they are full time foster carers with qualifications and experience in some relevant area), so are few and far between.

  4. Firstly, I enjoyed your well argued piece.

    Secondly, there is a further dimension to the “ineligible” segment of children in care that is often overlooked that has come within my experience. She who must be obeyed and I qualified as respite foster carers for disabled children earlier this year. We felt we had something to give back having benefitted ourselves as the parents of a disabled daughter. There are many such children who are admitted into care because their families simply cannot cope. They stand absolutely no chance of adoption. We met “Callum” this summer. He has severe learning difficulties and autism. He was admitted into care in May. He has a foster placement for 12 months. It is not working well. We provided respite for a fortnight. What we were presented with us is an angry little chap who is deteriorating fast as he is pushed from pillar to post. With no prospect of long term stability he has extremely limited prospects. I am sure he is representative of the many disabled children who become trapped in a care system that has no capacity to resource the type of placements they desperately need.

    • Thanks.

      Well done you guys for putting yourselves out there. Sadly, the Callum’s of this world have even less of a voice than care kids generally, due to minority. Because they are in the minority, they are in a system that is simply not geared up for them, as you say, and there are so few carers of any type for them. Thank you for making the point :)

  5. Another great piece!

    Here in my neck of the woods, we have a disproportionately high number of residential care homes for children in care. Homes run by private companies, housing two of three children who are in care to local authorities from all over the place. I would like to think that we have such a high number of homes because the owners of these private care companies think that relocating a child to a rural location with few distractions will allow the child to blossom, will allow them to concentrate on their education, will create a more “homely” environment than some inner city location.

    I actually suspect that we have so many because property is still relatively cheap here, compared to the rest of the country. Lower mortgage and cheaper wages = more profit. Obviously, that is just a suspicion

    So young teenagers in care arrive here, and are esconced in a house with a PS3, and a mobile phone, and are expected to behave. Most have aready a history of visiting youth courts the length and breadth of the country. Most are relatively streetwise and many sexually precocious. Lincolnshire is a bit of a culture shock to them

    After a few days, they get bored. Arguments start within the home, either between their fellow residents or (more usually) with the staff. The staff often cannot cope. A cup gets thrown, or a door gets broken, or a punch gets thrown. A 999 call is made by the staff and the police are called. Arrests are made.

    No one from the home can sit in the interview, so an appropriate adult is called to the station and they automatically request the duty solicitor.

    We arrive to face a despressingly similar scenario. The officers have had no choice but to arrest and have then spent considerable time taking statements from all the care workers. The custody staff are fed up because the kids are constantly pressing the buzzer in the detention room or amuse themselves by rhythmically kicking the door to the room.

    There is no doubt that, in law, offences have been committed. However, the underlying story is that the child has been moved here from a metropolis or from some other care home that couldn’t cope with them and is lonely, frustrated, bored. I have lost count of the number that I see that have only been at the home a couple of days. Most actually have no idea whereabouts in the country they have been located. Its just another house they have to live in.

    The kids are often very quick to admit the offence(s) to me. They’ll tell me that the reason they have kicked off is because either they’ve been refused something or because someone has said the wrong thing to them or it has been taken the wrong way.

    And the vast majority of them turn out to be, underneath, pretty nice kids. Find something they are interested in and they’ll talk about it for ages. Some are natural comedians, some are clearly naturally bright. All, however, have the same depressing view of their future – more years of being in care, being moved around the country, until they are 18 and come out of care. Virtually none of them have any idea of what they’ll do when they leave care.

    Interviews over, they are bailed, or charged, or NFA’d, and they go back to the home. There is every chance you’ll see them again in a few days time when they get arrested again. Or you might never see them again, because they’ve been moved on to Gloucestershire, or Suffolk, or somewhere else where the company charged with “caring” for them has a home.

    The best lesson I learned when I became a defence lawyer was never to get emotionally involved – you lose your objectivity and that can be fatal to your client’s case. But I cannot help but feel incredibly sad that, in 2011, we still have no idea how to cope with teenage kids in care and that there appears to be no future for these boys and girls. In fact, the term “in care” really angers me because they are not being cared for; they are simply being contained.

    I’ve been in this game for well over 20 years now. I have been working in the criminal justice system for almost 40 years. These kids situations are really no better than kids their age in the early 70s … of, except they now get a PS3 and mobile phone!

    Hope that all made sense. It is very early in the morning but your article moved me to say something about this

    • Thank you so much for your comment. You sum up a lot of what is wrong with the older kids in care – kids who only mark time until they leave. By then of course they are institutionalised, and have no skills to cope independently. It is not long before they realise there is another place like that from which they came – the prison system. Wholly depressing.

  6. I note that this is ‘Part I’.

    Perhaps in a future blog you will discuss some of the factors preventing children from being made available for adoption before they become so badly damaged. Of course, this raises other ethical dilemmas because it would often mean taking a child away from [a] natural parent[s] who are/is never going to cope, against their best wishes, and possibly to the parent’[s'] detriment.

    • Part II will be on government plans to hasten the court process; Part III will be about why it takes so long between a problem being noted by social services and a child’s entry into care.

      • You’re right, Peter – there are a lot of ethical dilemmas around adoption. Some of these can be addressed through open adoption (I think we’ll see some discussion in Part III), but there is also the issue of supporting the first parents.

        • A child only has one mother and one father. To refer to the natural mother as the first mother, the birth mother is to refer to her as a breeder.

          “Adoption is not about unwanted children.
          It is about unwanted mothers.”

          “So social workers responded by creating a list of ridiculous “birth” terms meant to confine the mother’s relationship with her child to simply giving birth, ending at that point. In other words, “birthmother” is simply a euphemism for “incubator” or “breeder.”

          Then, social workers deliberately disguised their disrespectful intent by calling it “Respectful Adoption Language.” “Respectful” to adoptive parents, who are now to be called “parents,” as if the two natural parents no longer exist.

          Deliberately creating the term “birthmother” was a further attempt to break the bond between mother and child; in addition to altering birth records to indicate that adopters gave birth, sealing the original birth certificate, and changing the child’s identity with a false adopted name. Adoption is built on lies and denials of truth, so we mothers shouldn’t be surprised that “Respectful Adoption Language” is just another deceitful ploy. “

  7. It has always seemed to me that the emperor has no clothes when it comes to our child care system. I have seen children push at every boundary in order to have themselves removed from home and then be moved from one available foster place to another, being placed according to what is available in an emergency rather than a proper matching process. Eventually, they find themselves living longer in the children’s homes that used to be temporary stop gaps while a small group of professionals try to address their issues and the majority within their community are intimidated by them. All the statistics tell us that the state is a terrible parent. Looked after children will have fewer life chances, are more likely to encounter the criminal justice system, less likely to engage with education and have difficulties in future relationships. Everyone working in the system knows this and would love to be able to place every child in a safe and nurturing home. Unfortunately, the places are simply not there. We all know the areas in our country where adults are locked into an addictive criminal lifestyle with children growing up around them and nothing seems to be getting done. After Baby Peter we were told that more children would be taken into care yet we seem to have seen nothing of this. It would cost a lot of money, require you and me to stop just talking about it and actually open our doors to these damaged young people and all of us to face the facts of how deep these difficulties run in our society. There are no signs out there that anybody is ready for such cultural shift, although I am certain that it will be talked about again should another horrific situation arise. Meanwhile, individuals will carry on trying to make use of what is available for the children that are in front of us and in need right now.

    • The figures do show that there has been a rise in proceedings year on year since Baby P. Unfortunately, that rise has not been matched with a rise in resources and placements, so now we have even more children in a system that cannot properly deal with them. Yes, you and I can open our doors, and try to do what we can, but the first stage is that we are assessed to be foster carers… and many authorities haven’t even the funds with which to do that.

      Ed Balls promised children’s services the world after Baby P. Did he deliver? No. What they have is no more funding, but yet more forms to complete to assess their star rating.

  8. Thanks for your response. Although I do believe that adoptions break down not specifically because of adoptive parents being unprepared, but crucially they are unsupported.
    As you note – once a child is adopted – that is the end, broadly, of the State’s responsibility and involvement. This means that essential help like counseling, physio family therapy etc are not covered, not funded and go by the wayside. Meanwhile the new adoptive family can deteriorate isolated from any kind of support network whereby an ever more damaged child will get shoved back into a painfully inadequate system.

    As an aside – I met a woman yesterday who had friends who had just domestically adopted a little boy of 14 months. However they had been ‘matched’ with him when he was one month old. Leaving a delay of 13 months where he lived with foster parents. Seriously? You couldn’t get away with doing that with a prisoner at her majesty’s pleasure would you? No parole because of paperwork. But it’s okay to do it with a baby? Ultimately, if this system were scrutinized the same way a prospective adoptor was, it would never be allowed to provide ‘care’ for these children.

    • You’re right, it is a combination. These children leave court with a care plan that carefully details the package of support they need. The local authority (who drafted it) don’t have the money to pay for it, so at best it is a wish list, unless it is at the cheaper end of the scale. Then they place with adopters, and that package goes by the by. At best the adopters can hope they get the child referred to CAMHS quickly, so work can start – but like anything, resources depend on where they live.

      Re the baby, I guess he or she was removed at birth. Then the case has to go through the care system in court. The ideal is 40 weeks, but if the parents are showing signs of improvement, the judge will give them a bit longer, in the hope that the child can be raised by the biological parents. The child is represented throughout those proceedings, and the guardian, who is their voice in court, has to balance the child’s need to move on and be placed, with the child’s right to be raised by the biological parents if at all possible. Not an easy scenario.

      The ultimate aim behind this piece, and the next couple, is that the system does start to become scrutinised – largely this issue is ignored, and people do not know of it, quite deliberately.

  9. Reading these comments reinforces my first instinct, which was to ask how on Earth anyone can say “how successful” a foster placement is. Is Callum’s respite foster placement successful because it gives his no-doubt worthy long-term foster carers a break, or unsuccessful because it disrupts his stability? Who defines success? Marks out of 10?

  10. i’ve grown up through the care system – made a ward of the court at 3mths in 1968 and despite being a ‘ward of the court until 18′ was never adopted :( my sister who’s 2yrs younger than me was. I used to wish i’d been adopted, when i got to around 10 i used to wonder why i hadnt – was it because i had a squint, was it because i have a funny surname (both ridiculous reasons but i always thought i mustnt have been nice enough to be picked for adoption – now i’m older the fact i wasnt adopted doesnt bother me so much with hindsight all that mattered was i had a home run by staff who showed an interest in me and most importantly staff that were going to be around for a while, kids in care are very insecure and when staff leave it turns their world upside down – i grieved for months when my ‘auntie jill’ left i know its inevitable staff will come and go but as a kid in care you take it personally and dont understand people are just staff doing a job . I think i also have to say about people who’ve come through the system is that we’re not all ‘damaged’ regardless of what our unfortunate backgrounds – i have 3 siblings – 2 (who were in longterm foster care from 5 – 18) are binge drinkers, the adopted sister works as a barmaid and me the one who was in the homes is working as a probation officer in a metropolitan court, i’m not saying i’m better than them but i’ve certainly shown more fight than flight than any of them – who knows what i’d have done had i had a stable upbringing – i’ll never really know my full potential but tbh i’m happy with my lot – everything i’ve done’s taken longer – uni at 28 and i passed my driving test at 30. All children need is a chance, they dont give a stuff what colour their prospective adoptive parents are etc etc so long as they’re fed, clothed, watered and shown an interest in that’s all that matters.

    Looking back at my time in care the best time of my childhood was in the mid 70s – i was part of a new scheme by social services and it was called a ‘family group home’ It was a house owned by the authority and a married couple were ‘our parents’ there was me and four other children, I have really happy memories of my 3yrs there (between age 6 and 8) and for the one and only time in my life i in effect had a mum and dad – also their family but unfortunately they did it for 3yrs (the happiest years of my childhood) and wanted to move on which left us kids kind of abandoned – i was fostered out and it never worked out – i pined for my old ‘family’ but wasnt allowed contact – now i’m older and i hear about these kids being moved over 10 times etc i feel so sorry for them and the rejection they must feel. At the end of the day the govt can number crunch all they like – who knows what the actual number is – but you can be in care and happy/stable – there’s just a bit too much on adoption being the be all and end all and it isnt.

    • Stories like yours are incredibly valuable in teaching us how we should model the care we give to children in these situations. Thank you so much for sharing it.

    • This reminds me of another group of looked after children who are not adopted / suitable for adoption – those wheer there are strong familial bonds and where long-term foster care may be a beetter outcome.

      A few years ago I was involved in a case where 3 siblings were subject to care proceedings. The proceedigns became necessary becasue the parents were no longer able to provide adequate care (mum had learning difficulties, dad much older, had borderline learning difficulties – they had managed to provide basic care but struggled with appropriate care for three children approaching their teens, two of whom also had disabilities which made them very vulnerable. )

      It fairly quickly became clear to everyone involved that there was no way in which the parents would be able to get to a point where they could provide good enough parenting. Any planning for the children needed to be for the rest of the childhoods. BUT – these children did had very good, strong attachments and bonds to each other, to their parents and to their extended family. They were old enough to understand who they were in relation to their wider family. Assesments by a child psychologist with a lot of experience in supporting adoptive families, and child where adoptions have broken down advised against adoption for these partcialr children. her recommendation was for long term foster placements which would support direct contact between the siblings and between the children and their parents and extended family.

      There was a struggle (the two foster families found are professional foster carers so this is expensive)but ultimately, a care Plan was agreed and final Care Orders were made.

      That was around 4 years ago. I see the children’s social worker from time to time – she has confirmed that all of the children are doing very well.

      Those particular children have NOT been failed by the system. They have stable, loving homes, carers who have access to support and respite care when needed and a strong relationship with their natural parents and extended family. But to the Prime Minister, they have been ‘failed’ because they were not placed for adoption (which the epert felt would have a very high risk of breaking down..)

      I am also in the process of acting for grandparents who have cared for their grandchild for the past 3 years. That child is subject to a final care order. Again, that child is in a stable, loving home with contact with the parents. We have just reached the decision NOT to proceed with a Special Guardianship Order because doing so will leave the grandparents finacially worse off – G/M would have to return to work which they feel is not in the interests of their Grandchild, who has special needs.

      That child will probably be ‘in care’ for until the age of 18, but in the specific circumstances that it the best outcome for the child.

      A third case I’m currently dealing with ivolves a child who has been ‘stuck in care’ for several years. She will, next week, be adopted. Her new parents are the foster carers who have looked after her for the past 2 years, who support and facilitate contact with her birth family, and intend to continue to do so. There are a number of reasons why adoption was not an option when she first went into care, and had she been adopted earlier it would not have been by this couple, and she would almost certainly have ended up with little or no direct contact with her original family. (as it is, she will see her dad, and her grandparents, once a fortnight, and everone concerned has been able to agree to the adoption, so the adoptive parents have the support of the birth family, which must be of huge value to the child, who is not left with conflicting loyalties)

      I absolutely agree that there are a lot of improvements which need to be made to better support children in care, and after adoption, but I am very woried at the idea being presented that adoption is always better than remaining in Care, and that a child who is not adopted within x months has been ‘failed’ bythe system. To my mind, a child who is adopted to quickly and where the adoption subsequently breaks down (not uncommon, especially with older children) has been failed just as badly.

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