Friday, 8 November 2019

The A&F Podcast - Adoptee Conversations - Tanya

This week we speak to Tanya, an adopted adult and adoption social worker. She shares parts of her story and her views and perspectives on different aspects of adoption and the current system.
You can read more of Tanya's story on the PAC UK website here and follow her on Twitter here.
The usual warning if you’ve any doubts get a friend to listen first.

We hope you find it interesting and if you’re an adoptee and would like to share your perspective or experience then please do direct message us at our twitter feed here or on our facebook page here.

Listen/subscribe on iTunes here
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Together, We Can Make It by Neutrin05 |
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Adoption: A Nettle we Should Grasp?

I’ve been seeing the  Adoption is a permanent solution to a temporary problem’ phrase a lot recently and I.........well I'm not sure it's that simple. I really would love it to be. 

It is succinct and to the point and encapsulates a position fantastically well and I get exactly what is being said but it really doesn’t reflect the complexity of almost all situations. For clarity I'm not talking about historic adoption, or necessarily other models and cultures of adoption, that is a truly complicated picture and way above my pay grade. I'm thinking about contemporary UK adoption. *

Anyway. that phrase reduces a lot of things down to what are murky and complicated issues in a way that does the adoption conversion no favours at all. I see lots of perspectives in the online debate, one position that wants it to be simple and one that wants it to be complicated and never the twain shall meet. Both reluctant to engage in meaningful conversation and I find myself pulled between the two positions and often agreeing and disagreeing with both, again I'm a total cop out. 

Like surgery, adoption is traumatic, painful, messy, dangerous and sometimes planned, sometimes carried out in less than ideal situations, often a judgement call based on best evidence. Never the less, it is a trauma, carries inherent risks and is rarely a guarantee of anything. That all said, we can all agree that sometimes surgery is needed and we weigh the cost, balance the risk and make that decision. Only with hindsight we know if it was the right thing. 

Through my work I read the stories of children in families every day and it is mostly really complex. Act or don't act, intervene or not, remove or support. The answers are judgements made on available information, no crystal balls available, 10 years down the line we may see clearly but right then we can only go with what is shown. Should we support families more, with no caveat yes. However, for some families that isn't good enough for children for a raft of reasons. We can all play a hypothetical game on twitter but that isn't an option for those with the actual decisions. 

A few years ago I attended one of the consultation days of the adoption enquiry and it was a challenging day to say the least. Talking with parents of children removed then adopted as a ‘user’ of the adoption system is to say the least is a complicated conversation. It was tense at times, it was emotive at times and I questioned myself, my children’s story and the system that managed that process. However, we could all agree that some children should not and could not be cared for by their parents and that their families cannot and should not have physical contact with those children. In that case we need to find permanent homes for those children. We know that long term foster care is often an illusive thing with inherent challenges and SGOs not always possible. So why not adoption? Why not? The key arguments against are hydra but identity, contact and access to information are primary issues. If we resolve those issues then does that change the conversation? does that alter how we view adoption? 

I'm not sure. This year I've thought harder than ever about the ethics and values in relation to adoption, questioned my motives and parenting, listened to adopted adults and stretched myself out. 

I don't want to stretch the surgery metaphor too far, though why not? Medicine changes, practice develops, surgery becomes more precise, sometimes redundant but for now it remains a necessary tool in some situations. I think that is where I stand that in balance for a small number of children** adoption remains necessary trauma that may be the best bet. 

In writing all of this I'm conscious that I'm presuming that it's a service solely for children, it's not and may never be. Perhaps that changes everything. 

*You say it's all the same, I say 'nope' it really isn't but I'm more than willing to publish your guest blog. 

** I'm talking UK and we clearly need to talk about the number and we clearly need to make practice better. The conversation around international and pay for babies is clearly a different one. 

Friday, 1 November 2019

Podcast Special - Adoption Sunday with Emily Christou from Home for Good

This week we speak to Emily Christou in relation to the Church's 'Adoption Sunday'. Emily works for the national charity Home for Good in relation to influencing policy change and raising awareness of specific issues.

Listen on iTunes here
Spotify here
Google here

We discuss issues of faith, how they are perceived outside of the faith community as well as the legacy of some of the scandals that the church has been part of. Though we talk about the awareness raising function of the charity we do focus on some of the additional work that they have undertaken to develop national policy. Specifically the work on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adoption and Permanency in relation to the value of the Adoption Support Fund as well as work on developing system knowledge of children of colour in the system and the specific challenges they face in looking for permanency and adoption.
We hope you enjoy it and we'll be back on track with episodes and conversations next week.

Friday, 25 October 2019

The A&F Podcast Episode 74 - The Care Experienced Conference

This week we speak to Jamie Crabb and Rosie Canning representatives from the Care Experienced Conference. They give us some background in relation to the conference that was held earlier in the year, share some of the reasons behind it and being to discuss the recently released report that they have been sharing with a range of professionals and politicians.

You can download the report here as well as find out more about the conference, we'd really recommend doing that as they are an important and interesting read. You can also find the Care Experience Conference Twitter Feed here to follow their progress and updates. They are using the reports to influence fostering practice as well as spark a conversation.

We also have a little InfoBanter and there's a few thoughts on the storyline on the new film Joker.
As always, thanks for listening, share the love and peace out as the young people would say.

Friday, 18 October 2019

Podcast Special - The Open Nest Cont. #PreservationOrSeverance

This week's Episode is a snapshot from The Open Nest's conference #PreservationOrSeverance.

Al managed to gather some contributors to the day's events and asked them a few questions. Adopted adults Catt Peace, form the PATCHES Family Foundation and Clair (@howtobeadopted) shared a few thoughts on the events of the day and Open Nest Trustee Fran Proctor also outlined the hopes and aspirations for the day. Added to that Sarah Phillimore (@SVPhillimore) Family Court Barrister offered a different perspective on the day.

Scott and Al chat about the interviews and add a little infobanter.

Sunday, 13 October 2019

The A&F Podcast Episode 73 - An interview with Karen Bartholomew

In this episode we speak to playwright Karen Bartholomew in relation to her production 'Giving up Marty' a play that considers the reality of adoption reunion from a range of perspectives. Karen is adopted herself but this isn't her story but she hopes to offer an antidote to the fictionalised and sanitised TV versions of reunion that the adoption community often object to. We chat about that and the impact that the earlier test previews of the production as well as her hope to raise funds for a wider production run that would give more people the opportunity to see the play.

Scott and Al discuss Adoption Week and the usual challenges as well as Scott's temporary retirement from the head world of adoption.

Please check out Karen's Crowdfunding page can be found here and giving opens on the 14th October. Also, follow Karen on Twitter here and have a look at the trailer/teaser for the play.

National Adoption Week 2019 - Beneath.

National Adoption Week has never been for those who've passed through the fairy tale forest of the adoption system to the evergreen pastures of post Adoption Order life. It's for people that know little or nothing about adoption, it's about recruitment and on a level I'm fine with that. Well kind of.

Clearly, I've had other thoughts on NAW but I'm not sure what I can add in relation to the complexities of feelings it provokes that I haven't already said in previous year's blog posts. National Adoption Week does feel like some guests have come into our house for the week and are redecorating, moving the furniture and retuning the telly only to slink off at the end of the week for another year. Maybe that's just me.

This year it's all about finding parents for children of colour, now there's an emotive subject to kick into the national media for a open and healthy debate, well perhaps not. More likely we'll still see the smiling faces of children with heartbreaking stories rather than the usual headlines like:

'too fat/thin/old/young/black/white* to adopt'
'social worker snatches baby' 

Stories that raises the ire of the readership with the usual adoption tropes laid out. Perhaps I'll spend another year looking in the other direction.

I hope that the theme this year scrapes beneath the 'find an orphan a home' headlines and starts to ask the questions that it deserves. Why are children of colour over represented in the cohort of children looking for permanence? Why are adults of colour under represented in those coming forward to adopt? Why are those children waiting longer to be placed for adoption? Lots of questions that, probably, won't be answered this week. Right now the data we hold on this is sketchy, who are these children being placed with, do they reflect the children's ethnicity?  Raising this issue is positive but there's certainly a need to develop our knowledge of the issue so we can consider an appropriate response. Clearly, that's a systemic change that need to be driven from the top. We measure what matters and right now this is a sketchy area of the system with limited facts but it does matter?I think so, there are hundreds of children of colour waiting for new parents and we need to know more about the context and practice that impacts on them and the children that have gone before.

There are so many questions that need to be asked in relation to adoption set in the context of children needing permanent and stable replacement parents. The debates around contact are growing but I'm sure that the blood runs cold in the recruitment and comms teams of the adoption agencies as we consider the need to modernise that element of this world. We'll not be talking about that this National Adoption Week. That we need to consider the ethics and human rights of families as well as children is growing in the consciousness of many but that's off the mainstream agenda.

Family breakdown in adoptive homes flashes through social media again and again, another area with no data, it is collated but not to a quality that can be published. It's a significant issue for many families with older children that are adopted, how do systems that are focused on traffic flowing one way manage it when the flow reverses. Not well I'm sure as we don't have any reliable data mostly anecdote and individual stories. Families, children and adults, traumatised by re entry to a care system that sometimes struggles to care. We need to know more but perhaps we can talk about it next week?

There are glimmers of progression to my eyes, The Open Nest and the Adoption and Special Guardianship Board's consideration of future needs. The media will print the photos of children needing homes and run out the same tropes. I guess that I've learnt to live with it but I know that it stings many people as they deal with the reality of adoption in their lives.
It's a tricky week so stay well.

* adjust to suit the particular flavour of paper