Monday, 24 February 2014
It is very easy to describe the adoption process as being for the benefit of the prospective adoptive parents. The opportunity for couples or individuals who cannot otherwise create a family "naturally" (or for that matter "unnaturally") to get the children they have always wanted. A chance for parents of existing families to expand those families in a manner which "gives back..." There is, of course, an element of this. However, it must be remembered that the adoption process is not driven by the needs of the parent (birth or adoptive) but by the needs of the children in the "looked-after" system for whom adoption has been identified as the best outcome.
The needs of the child drive every part of the system from the screening and approvals process through to matching, placement and any subsequent support. That's not how the press portrays it but, then again, that doesn't make for sensationalist headlines. Much has been made in the papers of the proposals which have been made for linking and matching under the revised adoption system - and a lot of it in prurient, innuendo filled terms. Having spent many months last year castigating adoption agencies and local authorities for letting too many children languish in care when there are dozens of prospective parents champing at the bit to give them homes (I exaggerate, but not much) they are now caricaturing greater access for parents to the details of children available for adoption and adoption as first come first served cattle markets and sordid baby catalogues (again I exaggerate; again but not much).
Monday, 17 February 2014
As of July last year a new, revised adoption process came into force. New? Well, newish. Many of the elements remain much the same as under the previous system but to a much compressed timescale which aims to get prospective adopters to panel and placed with children more quickly.
After an initial, informal part of the process where those interested in adoption are encouraged to find out more about what adoption entails (and are resourced to do so) the more formal part of the process begins. Compressed into about 6 months, rather than the previous 8-9, this is split into two distinct phases.
Monday, 10 February 2014
The last year has been a pivotal one in the adoption world. Adoption has suddenly become a political hot topic. But in largely a good way. It has received attention at the highest levels of government and on that basis, changes are afoot.
It was something of a surprise when Prime Minister, David Cameron announced that reform of the adoption system was a personal political priority for him. Cynics might claim that it was also a nice, fluffy, feel-good initiative to get behind at a time when he and his coalition government seemed to be beset with problems at all sides. One could also speculate on the placement across the government departments most closely linked with fostering and adoption of ministers with personal experience of adoption and fostering. Accident, design, strongly held belief or political expedient, it became clear that a ground up review of the system was planned.
Monday, 3 February 2014
It was a few days after our phone call with Denise that an envelope containing the locally produced list of children who were still waiting for adoption plopped onto the doormat. We opened it with a surprising amount of trepidation, possibly based on Denise's reluctance to give it to us. The colour photocopied booklet turned out, as we expected, to be a mini version of Be My Parent or Children Who Wait. On each page a couple of profiles of children or sibling groups were laid out with (mostly) a cherub-like photo and a short blurb describing the child or children. Sure, most of the profiles mentioned some level of developmental delay in their subject - the severity varying from child to child - but we were repeatedly told that was pretty much a given when considering kids for adoption.
Keisha is a happy 6 year old. She loves playing with her my little pony and trips to the park...
Daniel and Kimmi are the youngest of 6 siblings and are looking for a permanent home together in an adoption placement...
Jayden is a charming little boy with a bright smile who loves being outdoors. Although he does display some difficulties in responding to physical expressions of affection he has been improving greatly throughout his current foster placement...
However, one thing that the booklet did prove was that Denise had been telling the truth when she told us geography was getting in the way of us being matched... Profile after profile finished with the words "Cannot be placed in Ourtown." or "Cannot be placed in the Inlawsville area." Fair enough, between us and parents we did live in striking distance of two of our county's main population centres. That would have to have an effect on which children could never be placed with us.