Friday 5 May 2023

Adoption Crisis: The Jarring Reality Of Adoption - Update

Been a really interesting and busy week in terms of the Adoption Crisis report that Fiona Wells et al. produced. We've spoken to the great and the good across several meetings and had some very informed and productive meetings. 

There's not one person that doesn't see the issues or isn't aware of the challenges that many families face. 

The Julie Selwyn 'Beyond the Adoption Order' report from 2014 loomed large over the conversations, are we still looking at one third of adoptive families in crisis, one third with some struggle and one third doing ok. I'd say probably that's just a view from here. 

Well, there's no empirical data and we talked a lot about looking to build some sort of knowledge base in terms of that as well as in terms of pre adoption order breakdown or post order disruption. The keys to getting that data are complex but it would be a helpful step. It can feel dull but data drives decisions and the adoption community can help with that in terms of lived experience of interacting with services and agencies. 

We talked in terms of the interface of RAAs and local authority safeguarding teams as they often get drawn into the crisis' that families face. We need to have informed and knowledgeable practitioners that understand the complexity of caring for children with complex histories, biology and behaviour. That would not only benefit adoptive families but from a numerical perspective SGO families and families caring for children with SEND. Everybody wins. 

Respite was bandied around and some interesting thoughts in terms of what that would and should look like were had. Adopter preparation was also discussed, how do we effective prepare prospective adopters? There's broad guidance in the Regs but beyond that different RAAs and VAAs do it differently, do we need national minimum standards or steal ideas from fostering where post approval foster carers are required to evidence training and development. 

Ideas are fine and there's no shortage of them, however  initiating and creating change and building consensus is a wholly different matter. The political reality is that we're likely in the run up to a change of Government and that being the case if we're to see the political will for long term change we need to be lobbing this government to initiate change and any future government to maintain that change and see it through. That's complex especially in a landscape of austerity, cost of living and resources being stretched. 

I'm a pragmatist, there's things we can aim for that are within the gift of those that we met but changing culture in adoption is a long term project. 

So, what next?

Well, we're letting the dust settle on the conversations we've had and then come up with some steps we can take to ensure that the issue remains on the agenda and that we can aim for the achievable and build for the longer term objectives. 

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