Saturday, September 08, 2007

I keep hearing

(as in at this exact moment I am listening to some woman talking about evil social workers who are poised to snatch her baby from her arms) that 2,000 babies were taken from parents last year for adoption into other families, and that that is a massive increase over the past ten years. The news media suggests that this is because social services are given financial incentives to place more children for adoption.


Actually social workers operate within the Children's Act 1989 which states as its founding principle - children are best off within their own family. Therefore social workers end up supporting families in attempts to prevent the necessity to remove the children. What this means is that children stay in unsafe situations for much longer than they should as parents who are never ever going to be capable of caring for their children properly are left to damage the children more. In a minority of cases what happens next is that a child is taken away, and may be placed with an adoptive family.

My recent experiences at work has made me very anxious about this whole process as what we then see some time down the line is adopted parents coming back to say their adopted child is out of control and what do they do with them? Research suggests that this is because their child was so badly emotionally damaged by their pre-adoption experiences that they were always likely to suffer from an inability to trust and bond with other adults. (A child is best off in the family of their birth? Discuss.) So common are the calls I take along these lines that I have questioned whether in fact adoption as a concept is intrinsically flawed. Are children too wrecked by their early life experiences to ever learn to be part of a brand new Forever Family?

But what I forget is that I see the cases where problems have developed, but never hear a word from those adoptive families who are perfectly well balanced and happy, which is why I am glad I spent today entertaining a group of 5 five year olds, all adopted, and all a total delight to be with. Knowing their pre-adoption histories as I do, it has restored my faith in adoption as a positive alternative for children who need the stability and love offered by caring parents.

Going back to my opening lines, there are no financial incentives for placing 'x' number of children for adoption. If it is the case that many more young children are being taken away from their families and placed in new ones well may be, just may be, it is because there are too many children born to parents like the one Cookie mentions here, who frankly should not be allowed anywhere near any child ever, let alone be left in peace to drag a child up in their own home.


Gill said...

I know adopted children who are happy and well adjusted and I know those who are not. But the same applies to children who live with their natural parents. There are no easy answers and I admire anyone who tries their best to do the right thing for children in whatever way.

J.J said...

Yes Gill, I am sure it has much to do with resiliance and security in childhood, as to whether we emerge from childhood in good emotional shape.

Pixie said...

Sometimes I wish that we all took an exam before we were allowed to have children. Which i know is very Big Brotherish. But some people have so little idea of how to care for themselves let alone the children they then sporn.
And who suffers.... oh yes it's the children, what a surprise.

J.J said...

Pixie, and then the subsequent children of those children go on to have suffer. In my work we always start assessments with questions about family history, because it repeats through generations of neglect and abuse.