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November 24, 2012 permalink
Today's comment about adoption expresses outrage at the difficulties in adopting a needy child. The author fails to understand the difference between what social services agencies say in public (please adopt) and what they want in reality (subsidies for foster children). There is no way a social services agency will part with a well-behaved special needs child, and his rich subsidy, to supply a child to an adoptive family. To avoid admitting their intentions, they make the adopters jump through hoops and pretend the parents were not good enough. An earlier article dealt at length with the brush-off.
Rage at the adoption red tape that denies a child a home
Why is so little being done for the 65,000 children languishing in the care system?
Friends of mine – a clever, funny, affectionate couple – are going through the Kafkaesque adoption process at the moment, with astonishingly good grace.
They are prepared – in fact, happy – to take a child, or indeed siblings, with learning difficulties, which ought to catapult them to the top of the queue. But no.
She is a therapist with an extensive background in children with special needs. Yet she has been told she must get more experience – with special needs children. He is on his second marriage and already has two children, whom he sees weekly – but he has been told he needs more experience with kids.
You couldn’t make it up. Which is partly why I was horrified, but not surprised, at new figures showing that seven out of eight would-be adoptive parents drop out of the application process, because they are either too daunted or turned down flat.
I can empathise with their heartbreaking disappointment. My husband and I were rejected for adoption in our own borough six years ago because we were “the wrong colour”.
Then, when we tried elsewhere, we were turned down because – well, to be honest, I have no idea. Because I was nervous and talked too much? Because we have a dog or too many books or any of the other fatuous reasons I thought were the stuff of urban myth but, on reflection, probably aren’t?
We already had a daughter who was healthy, happy and longing for a sibling, but after a series of miscarriages, hope had receded. We felt – damn it, we knew – we could provide a loving, stable, supportive home for a child in desperate need of one. But we never made it past the first interview.
Was I supposed to appeal against the decision? Write letters? Turn up at their office and plead? I have since discovered that, unofficially, tenacity is seen as a sign of commitment. Then again, too much tenacity and you will be written off as “controlling”.
The Government has pledged to reform the adoption process, but it’s no easy task: the number of children placed with new families was 20,000 a year in the 1970s. Last year, it had dwindled to 3,048.
I don’t want to tar all social workers with the same brush, but a friend who worked in the sector for two decades confirms that there is an institutionalised aversion to risk; initiative is frowned upon and inaction the fallback position.
That’s why Victoria Climbie and Baby Peter were left in harm’s way. I can’t think of any instance in which an adoptive couple carried out a similar crime.
There are currently 65,000 children languishing in the care system. When they emerge, it will be with shockingly low employment and life prospects. I do understand that placing children is a serious undertaking and that people wishing to adopt must be strictly vetted. But surely there is some latitude for common sense?
Yes, there is a possibility that someone who has willingly entered the (highly stressful, highly intrusive) application process might harm a child. But isn’t that far outweighed by the fact that children in the care system are virtually guaranteed terrible emotional damage?
And the longer they stay in a system where they are shunted from one setting to another, the harder it will be to place them.
Children unaccustomed to normality, affection and the banal rules of family life can find it hard to settle. Yet just 115 adoption placements went wrong last year. While that’s a tragedy for those involved, the crazy, entirely counter-intuitive response by social workers seems to be to vet would-be parents more slowly rather than to take kids out of care more quickly.
My husband and I went on to have another baby after two years, and so I am lucky to feel blessed rather than bitter. But I do feel very angry on behalf of others; children and parents, whose hopes of a future have been strangled in red tape. I’m sure most social workers go about their jobs with good intentions, but to quote an old saw, the road to hell is paved with those.
Source: Telegraph (UK)