David Cameron has stepped into the adoption debate this week, distracting us all from the economic catastrophe with a message of hope for all those children "put up" for adoption who are "languishing" in care as a result of court delay (caused by lawyers, natch and probably ones with a human rights obsession too) and political oversensitivity to cultural and ethnic issues in the matching process (ditto). Don't start me on the use of terminology in those inverted commas...
I could write more about this topic (previous writing here). But there is some fantastic commentary on this already and I would be merely creating a poor imitation, and a rush job it would be too. So I'm going to give you some links and adopt everything everyone else has said (unless that someone has Minister or Tsar in their job title).
Amanda Bancroft has written a well considered and knowledgeable blog post this week about the current drive to have more babies adopted: Adoption Stories From The Tories: Part I (presumably to be followed with a Part II).
There is also some really good writing on The Justice Gap website by Liz Fisher Frank: Setting Up Kids To Fail. The Justice Gap also has a useful piece on the FDAC (Family Drug & Alcohol Court) Pilot which reminds us that whilst removal and adoption may be the best outcome for some individual children it doesn't really solve the root problem or the broader societal problem: Uncertain Future For Pioneering Court quotes District Judge Crichton's haunting description of the cyclical nature of birth and removal (we have all heard our clients utter these words):
He describes his own frustration ‘removing the fourth or fifth child and sometimes the seventh or eighth child from the same mother for exactly the same reasons’. ‘Nothing changes and nothing has been done to help them achieve change,’ he says.
Crichton reckons that a mother who has her child taken away in such traumatic circumstances ‘consciously or subconsciously goes off and seeks comfort’ often leading to another baby. ‘I’ve had women scream at me across the court: “If you take this one away from me I’ll go on having children until you let me keep one”,’ he adds.The judge refers to a recent psychiatric report in which it was said that the mother told the psychiatrist that ‘every time they remove a child the only way that I can deal with the pain of the loss is to get pregnant again’. ‘What a way to begin a life,’ adds Crichton.
There was an interesting interview on Womens' Hour yesterday with an adoptive parent, which gave some insight into just how difficult it can be to nurture what are often very damaged children.
I despair at the oversimplification of the whole issue of adoption by politicians and those who ought to know better. Rumours abound about a six month longstop on care proceedings - that should keep the appeal courts busy for a while. We can expect to find out a bit more about that tomorrow when the FJR is published (can't wait).
Oh, and you can also view a flashy PR video of Martin Narey trumpeting the merits of adoption on Family Lore here. I'd rather see the funds spent on projects like FDAC, on front line social work training or on reducing delay in the court process by increasing sitting days.