Sunday, 13 October 2019

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

1 comment:

  1. I agree very much with your whole article. It does sting those who are struggling post adoption with little/no support and it stings thinking of those being recruited by this fairytale idea of adoption. Thanks for your honesty. Stay well too