Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sorry but...

a) this isn't really an update and b) this could turn into a bit of a rant.

The very nice and extremely well-informed Aurelia blogged about a variety of things, including some not-very-new (sorry) "news" that there has been an increase in the number of babies removed from their mothers into foster care. Apparently as well as the Torygraph this has also appeared in the Daily Mail and the Times - both noted anti-social-worker papers. Yes, I am a woolly lefty. But I'm also a member of the British public who reeled in shock as we read about how Victoria Climbie fell through the cracks of the system - and yes, how two adoptive parents were accused (but acquitted) of killing their son.

If we become either adoptive parents or foster carers, we will have social workers in our face, mithering us to death. If I carry a baby to term, I will have a health visitor come to the house before the birth, as well as the midwife. If my birth or adoptive child is injured, the hospital will inform at least the health visitor. The HV will also check for signs of antenatal or postnatal depression. I believe this is right.

I do not believe that babies are being "taken for adoption" - I do believe that the childcare system - hospitals, HVs, midwives, social workers - has become a lot more jumpy. It is true that potential adoptive parents would like healthy white babies, but currently the choice is a) adopt a baby with a disability, a non-white baby (and that's pretty hard if you aren't black or mixed race yourself) or adopt an older child or siblings or b) don't adopt at all, what potential adoptive parents want and what they get bear little relationship to each other. Many people I've chatted to online have rung up their local social services to be told "there are no white children under 5" or " we aren't taking adopters on at the moment" (the latter being more or less what our county told us).

Loads of funding DOES go to women to help keep their babies. If we end up fostering that will be our main purpose - to help care for children while they have contact with birth families and the birth families sort their lives out. Where a child is in temporary foster care, it's for their safety, but children aren't placed directly for the adoption in the UK, ever - they are all placed in foster care in order to give the birth families space and time to be better able to care for them. It's only when that can't happen that a permanency plan that doesn't involve birth family is made - I know that this sometimes means that birth parents who later get their lives together do lose a child but for the sake of the child long periods of uncertainty are bad.


Thalia said...

aurelia wasn't the only person who blogged about this, but she certainly did the most thorough job til now. I had the same reaction as you but felt less informed and able to do justice.

When I read the daily telegraph story it felt as if it had been totally taken out of context, and designed to bash social workers just one more way. I have never heard of a child being removed from a family in the UK for less than extreme family issues. We are all well aware that there are no babies available for adoption in the UK unless there have been these kind of extreme situations, or if the baby is part of a sibling group where the other children have been removed for serious issues.

I think when US and Canadians read these stories it sounds like the experience of adoption in the US, which sounds horribly messy and very much parent-focused rather than child-focused in some places, that's why it sets of our colleague bloggers.

Thanks for responding.

Anonymous said...

Hiya, I hardly ever comment on blogs but this post has motivated me :)
As someone not involved in the adoption process at all I do feel for social workers. They are damned if they do and damned if they don't (take a child into care). I think I read somewhere there are less than 500 "babies" for adoption in the UK (all races, all abilities). In a pop of 60 mil that's not many.
cheers L

Aurelia said...


On this we will have to agree to disagree. I just hope that you will keep an open mind on the subject, because frankly, between the Ontario auditor-general and the Ombudsman, not to mention the Ontario government, I know for a fact that children are unnecessarily seized. There have been multiple investigations and court cases on the subject.

And based on the difference between the EU stats and the UK stats, it is seems more than a little odd that UK parents are so much more likely to get their children taken away than their European counterparts. I don't think they are any worse at parenting, I think something else is going on.

Statistically speaking, dramatic spikes or dips in any natural phenomenon like parenting competence are not likely without an external factor involved.

Money and changes in funding practices just might be the thing here.

I know it feels uncomfortable to you as a potential foster parent to think that this might happen, I'm sorry if it disturbed you for me to discuss it. I just can't ignore this kind of injustice.