Thursday 16 November 2017


It's the end of the busiest year that I've ever had and following National Adoption Week I put my brain in neutral to try to get some space while I crack on with life.

When my mind is idling I find ideas bubble up for blogs and posts but I've been resolute and steered clear of some of the big questions that surface.

However, I can't seem to get away from this idea that we need a universal adoption support service that really meets the needs of adopted children.

This is not a criticism of the Adoption Support Fund, if anything that is an attempt by government to provide for our children because some LAs are not. Of course, the good ones always have supported children and families and had a good core service. They have used the ASF wonderfully but there are other LAs that have never done so well and they have struggled to utilise or facilitate the ASF.

The ASF is not perfect and I could list the failings, I'm many things but I'm not an apologist for the Department for Education but on balance I'd argue that it's done much more good than harm.

My gripe is the core service offer of post adoption teams, I want local authorities and the Regional Adoption Agencies, when they come, to provide a good core service.

Recent reports have again highlighted the vulnerabilities and challenges of adoptees and adopters. It's like lots of research, bleeding obvious to anyone who's spent more than ten minutes looking at the issues.  It's beyond doubt that the cohort of adoptees within a UK context are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. In context of all UK children they're a small group but in relation to Adverse Childhood Experiences they punch way above their weight. The children who are adopted today have had to have had the worst of life to reach the threshold for adoption.

So, if you're going to have an adoption service then tool it up to do the job not just assess, match and out the door. Because we will come back and like it or loath it adopters can be pretty fearsome advocates and lobbyists.

Quietly I've been disgruntled, I see courses being offered in this and that giving support to families, interventions and programmes designed to take the ASF money but I can't help but feel they should be part of the core service of PAS teams. Child on Parent Violence affects up to 30% of adopters it's prevalence justifies support being part of the PAS core service. Challenges with school impact a huge proportion of adopted children they support needs to be part of the core service. Therapeutic parenting programmes, again should be build into the core services. Some families need ongoing professional supervision, a safe space not a stolen minute with the child's therapist on the way into a meeting. Supervision would be an excellent addition to this core service. I could go on, filial therapy, play therapy etc. All of them should be core services not money making schemes.

I read a tweet* from  @RealSWTutor this week that provoked me to stop and think a little differently. It was about something else but but paraphrased it turned to this in my head.

'Adoption isn't a hurdle that must be overcome but a trauma that must be supported'

Overstated? Yes, for some but not all.

I hope to see that one day we will move away from 'interventions' to support that's ongoing and enduring.  That the core services will be fit for purpose, a purpose that many of understand saves money and in a funding environment where we expect more for less this core service is an investment.

No punchlines I'm afraid just living in hope.

*'[S]ocial workers will struggle to gain trust within a system that sees domestic abuse as a hurdle that mothers must overcome, rather than a trauma through which they should be supported.' Highly recommended reading:

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