A #WASO special – Collective response to National Adoption Week and Edward Timpson

NAW-2014-logoNational Adoption Week took place earlier this month, and amongst a swathe of media stories about how amazing adoption is, how you could help a child in care, and how siblings should be kept together, an open letter to adopters quietly popped up.

Some of us spotted the letter. Others were directed to it by tweets and Facebook from those who had seen it, and soon via the power of social media, the letter became distributed between social media savvy adopters. It’s clear however that this letter is not going to be seen by all adopters, and I know my own local authority knew nothing of the letter until I mentioned it to them. As a result, they won’t be sharing it to other adopters local to me. Would have been nice if someone’s public relations department had emailed it to all local and voluntary agencies for some help with distributing it, unless of course that it’s irrelevant how many adopters actually see it – perhaps the purpose was just to be seen to be doing something?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, then please do look up the letter to adoptive parents that Edward Timpson MP has published.

Now, depending on how you feel about the letter, you might like to see a response – we like this one from Amanda Boorman at The Open Nest, we also support her petition which you’ll find here. We urge you to sign and share it.

All of this took place during National Adoption Week – something that appears to have evoked mixed feelings this year – much more so than years before. We have struggled to find out why National Adoption Week was actually established – back in 1997. Was it to raise awareness of adoption generally? Was it to recruit more adoptive parents? And whatever the reason…what is the reason for it now?
We know that each year the focus shifts slightly – this year it was on ‘Siblings’, and the importance of keeping them together. But generally what is it’s purpose?

As an adoptive parent, it all feels about recruitment these days to me. There is nothing about support – yes, Mr Timpson MP addressed it a little care of the new adoption support fund (and the few social workers and professionals that I’ve discussed it with seem nothing buy cynical about how it’s going to work anyway), but nothing from the main players about support now for those of us on the frontline of adoption, nothing about support for those adoptees that are in or have been through the system and are struggling and nothing about how support will improve for those adopters that are being sought to parent the siblings that so desperately need new families…
And it seems that I’m not the only one who feels this way – several blog posts and many tweets show that many feel the same.

As a result, we’ve decided to set up this #WASO special – a place for you to link your blog posts with your thoughts on National Adoption Week and your thoughts on Edward Timpson’s letter to you. And once you’ve added your posts, we’ll forward this all onto Edward Timpson’s office, and to BAAF (as the organisation who runs National Adoption Week) and invite them to respond.

So please, if you’ve been thrilled, moved, felt supported, rejected, forgotten, annoyed or pleased by the recent happenings, do come and share your blog posts on our #WASO special. If you haven’t got a blog but have something to say, then please write about it (and send it to theadoptionsocial@gmail.com) and we can publish your post either here or on The Boy’s Behaviour or The Puffin Diaries and link that up.
To give everyone a fair chance to take part, this linky will remain open until NEXT FRIDAY – 28th November.

3 thoughts on “A #WASO special – Collective response to National Adoption Week and Edward Timpson

  1. Hotfuzz

    These are thoughts that I have arrived at since my experience concerning my son and his wife’s adoption of their 3 daughters aged 2,4 and 6 about 18 months ago.
    As a result of this experience, I am feeling angry and concerned about the very poor way in which the whole process has been handled by the relevant bodies involved and the overall lack of care and common sense from a service which is supposed to be concerned with the welfare of the children. Given a similar situation – on another day, I can imagine tragic newspaper headlines which express concern, public inquiries and ‘lessons to be learned’ (again!).

    The following comments should not be dismissed as irrelevant because they are with the benefit of hindsight and therefore less meaningful – they are objective, plain common sense and are things that ought to have been obvious in general principle and certainly such considering that those responsible for adoptions must have encountered previously to varying degrees.

    A brief internet search reveals a worryingly high percentage of failures in adoption cases and surely the practices currently employed need to be questioned and altered, especially with the current initiatives to promote adoptions. If our experience and thoughts were made public then it would not be helpful – especially if speculation was made as to possible realistic outcomes in such cases.

    As the nominated main support for my son and his wife (and practically speaking, the only people living near to them), we have been vital in the process to date. Because we are sensible and caring, we have taken this role seriously and this has been at personal cost, much of it preventable!

    Initially we filled out a form and were ‘interviewed’ by a Social Worker at our home – and also voluntarily attended a group meeting (that in reality served little purpose).
    Other than that – apart from a desperate request from my wife to meet up with the main Social Worker in the case whilst I was abroad, we have been woefully neglected.
    I would have expected as a matter of routine some visits to see how WE were coping, enquiries to see if WE had any concerns or needs, certainly some sort of general welfare concern for US!
    I recently arrived at the family home whilst their Social Worker was there. I didn’t realise who she was but soon guessed. I said ‘Hello’ to her but didn’t want to interrupt anything – she only replied ‘Hello’ and said no more. As soon as I left, it occurred to me that she had never met me before, was fully appraised of the situations, concerns and problems and didn’t have the courtesy or initiative to actually introduce herself properly to me or even think to suggest a further visit to me and my wife. Was this just an oversight (not later realised?!), discourtesy, immaturity, or just plain ignorance?

    Unfortunately the overall situation has played no small part in adversely affecting my wife’s health directly leading to an emergency situation and for which she is now receiving ongoing medical treatment.
    In addition to this, the strain on my son and his wife has been immense and seems possibly to be the cause of a recent seizure (stress induced?) which has resulted in her having to surrender her driver’s licence and this will seriously adversely affect their income until she is able to reapply for it.

    So, what in my opinion has been wrong?
    What might be done better?
    Will there be any changes as a result?

    Firstly it is important to emphasise that, from this side of the adoption, this is not about money. If it were then they wouldn’t have chosen to adopt. That said, the skeptic in me asks ‘How much was it costing Social Services to keep the 3 girls in foster care each week/month – and did this play any part in the subsequent process to place them as soon as possible as adoptees with their new family who, for the right reasons wanted to give them a forever home?’.
    This ‘subsequent process’ meant that the girls were told that they were going to their ‘forever home’ with their ‘forever Mummy and Daddy’ at the time of their move. What later horrified us was to learn that almost a year later, just prior to (and in fact it delayed the matter) the formalisation of the adoptions, we were all told that the natural father had lodged an appeal (within the timescale) and that there was a possibility that the girls might be returned to him (or his family)!!!
    The impact was devastating – and had the appeal gone through – what effect would this have had on the girls? It seems to me that there has been a gross error and mishandling by Social Services.
    It begged the question as to why matters had not been handled differently in these circumstance and in my opinion I suspect that money played its part.

    Given the situation of a young couple with no children of their own, seemingly well suited to the girls in question and with the best part of a year to go before they are officially ‘adoptable’ – it would have been more sensible and honest to not tell the girls anything about a ‘forever’ situation until the time had actually arrived (ie after the final appeal) and to have Jon and Rebekah foster them in the first instance with a view to their adoption. This way we would have all been kept fully in the picture, proper suitability and monitoring ought to have taken place for everyone’s benefit, and the girls would not have been in a possible false position in their minds.
    This would have obviously been a further foster carer cost to Social Services – but what cost is the correct outcome?

    Having the 3 girls has indeed had its difficulties (they are a delight) – but initially my son and his wife were canvassed to actually have 4 (there are other siblings) and indeed they felt almost as though they ought to(!!!). The irresponsibility of that staggered us at the time and even more so now.

    So, the current situation is fragile but not irretrievable, and what might be done to assist it?
    I can only think that financial input from Social Services is a large part towards the answer (this will not be anything like the £thousands saved by them with the hasty removal of them from foster care). Further finance is something that certainly needs to be a matter for discussion – even if it is not normal procedure (‘normal procedure’ helped create this ‘un-normal’ situation) and a failure at this point would undoubtedly be very costly to them.

    For the future – well right from the start, the ‘experts’ realised some mistakes and changed policy regarding certain practices concerning bonding, which amazed me – as a first-timer it seemed obviously wrong to me from the start. The whole adoption procedure needs to be thoroughly revisited and should be an ever-evolving thing so that even if it is with hindsight, real lessons are learned and applied and ‘policies’ are not prohibitive to Common Sense’. I am very angry – but it is also objective anger and therefore of some use and my thoughts from a practical perspective are on offer.

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