National Adoption Week

This week has been an interesting, and quite emotional week.  It's been National Adoption Week in the UK.  The media has been full of information, news and stories about the failings of the adoption system and some of the wonderful outcomes that can be achieved.  Questions are being asked within government as to how the process can be streamlined and speeded up, whilst maintaining the quality of the assessment process.  I do feel that the process took far too long when we adopted Katie, as highlighted in The Tonight Programme last night but I also feel that adopters do need to be prepared for some of the difficulties that they may face in the future.  All children grow and change and experience varying emotions throughout their lives.  It isn't just about being prepared for a child who has a disability or has suffered trauma; it's also about being prepared for the questions your child will have about their birth family; how they will feel about being adopted and how they react to the emotions they feel about this.  How you, as an adopter, will feel about writing contact letters or having contact visits or conversations about birth family.  These are all unknowns and you can't possibly know how you will feel until those moments occur.  There needs to be a balance in the adoption system that can approve and match adopters as swiftly as possible yet ensuring that they are prepared for what may lie ahead.  This may mean more post-adoption support.  This will required funding.

More funding generally is required for the already financially stretched Childrens Services teams across the country.   I welcome the news that the adoption process will be speeded up but I do have concerns as to how this will be achieved.  When similar targets were introduced to the NHS it led to huge amounts of additional work for already stretched NHS staff.  Hospitals were named and shamed for poor waiting lists.  Was there additional funding introduced to support the new targets?  Of course not!  I worry that the same will happen with Childrens Services.  I have counselled Social Workers in the past and seen the stress that they are working under.  Adding to that stress won't make for a better system unfortunately. It will lead to more Social Workers taking long term sick leave.  More Social Workers are required to deliver this new speedier adoption system.  Where is the money going to come from to enable this I wonder?

One of the piece of news I welcomed yesterday was the report that adopted children will now be given admissions priority in school, the same as Looked After Children (Adoption UK Statement on changes to Admissions Policies for Adopted Children).  It will be interesting to see if there is anything included on Katie's admissions forms when I complete them in the next few days.

Katie tends to ask questions about her birth family as we're walking through a busy shopping centre; hardly an appropriate moment for a conversation.  Katie has asked me several times why she needed a new mummy and this has been my reply to her. "Your "tummy mummy" did a wonderful job of growing you in her tummy and made you beautiful but sometimes mummies aren't very good at helping children grow up big and strong once they've been born and you needed a new mummy and daddy to help you grow up".  She accepts this answer and it seems to help her understand.  I know there are more questions to come, some that will be harder to answer.  She has asked if she can see her "tummy mummy" and we have said that this is something that we will organise for her when she is older.  For the moment, she seems very well adjusted and is in no doubt of our love for her.  She returns that love one hundred fold and I hope with all my heart that that never changes.  I will never make her choose between me and her first mummy or her birth father.  Our door will be open to support any relationship she may want with her birth parents.  What I do hope though is that the adoption system will be there to support us through that process when the time comes.  I will do whatever I can to help Katie grow into a happy and emotionally stable young lady but I am not so naive to think that that won't be emotionally taxing on us at times and that we might need a little help.


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