In which a flabber is ghasted

You think you\’ve heard all the nonsenses possible in our howlingly statist adoption system and then they tell you this:

Adopting parents are for the first time to be given a pivotal role in finding and choosing the children they will care for under a series of reforms.

David Cameron has told The Times that he wants to throw open the process of “matching” children with families, so that parents have a greater say over their future family.

Under the present system, parents who have been approved for adoption wait for social workers to find them a child or children. They have no say over which children should be considered, and can often wait for many months, or even years, while various options are taken up and rejected.

Under the new proposals, parents will be granted access for the first time to the national register of all children awaiting adoption and empowered to request that a particular match is pursued on their behalf.

In addition, parties or activity days that bring together parents and children waiting to be adopted will be introduced nationwide, enabling parents to make the first move and express an interest in a particular child.


I mean I\’m fair enough with the idea that you don\’t get to tour the children\’s home and pick one out on a whim like a puppy for Christmas. But the idea that you actually had no control at all over who you might be offered?

Seriously? They were running a matching market without actually allowing either set of participants to be involved in the sorting of the matching?

Only the state bureaucrats had any influence at all on who might even conceivably go where?

The question isn\’t whether we should change such a system, of course we should. It\’s why haven\’t we hanged the people who designed the old one.

16 thoughts on “In which a flabber is ghasted”

  1. Well, I presume that it’s based on the principle that you don’t get to choose the child in your womb by the natural method. You get whatever grows in there, and you’re stuck with it. The best you can do is try to influence the statistical distribution of potential sprogs by mate choice.

    Which reminds me of a comment years ago on an internets discussion; one chap plainly put it, “I made sure to marry a beautiful woman because I can’t bear the thought of ugly children”. Except that that is not very reliable at all.

    So really, to match the adoption system to the natural childbirth system, you’d probably just have a lottery with no “matching” at all.

    Seriously, I think the basic idea was that it’s all about finding the right parents for the children. The prospective parents’ wishes don’t matter. What the system is designed to do is to try to satisfy the needs of the children by finding them the right parents.

    I’ve never adopted a child, but I have adopted a cat, and the cat ladies were very clear that the cat’s needs were paramount and appropriate life-servants needed to be found for the cat to satisfy her needs. They weren’t at all keen on the “we want a persian that matches the curtains” type people at all. So I think that’s the sort of idea behind adoption systems.

  2. “But the idea that you actually had no control at all over who you might be offered?”

    Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.

    Years ago, the church dictated the right to bear children; you must be married to have them and only the church can marry you.

    The modern leftist/statist system is just a replacement religion.

  3. Given the state of our care homes, it’s clearly in the interests of the child t be adopted as soon as possible. The the “doggy in the window” option would be best on aggregate.

  4. Some friends were cleared for adoption 20 years ago (a lengthy process) and found a Romanian girl in an orphanage to adopt. All was OK until they discovered she had a twin brother, and when they tried to adopt him, were told that they were only cleared for one child!

  5. With cats its much easier, just find someone getting rid of cats or kittens. We usually get two at a time if kittens, from the same litter. And we do get to pick.

    Children are harder to adopt. Is the system however such that its easy to adopt or hard to adopt? If hard, leaves children in care who should not be in care. And from the published statistics, kids in care are less likely to do well later if they stay in care until kicked out.

  6. @Ian B,

    Up to a point.

    Natural parents can take their chance in the lottery of life that the right genes are passed on, the nature bit, and have full control, initially, on the nurture bit. Although neither can prevent you have in “wrong ‘un”.

    Adopting parents have to take what nurture is evident so it isn’t unreasonable to try to find some compatibility.

  7. As someone who is going through the process at present, I can tell you that the article is somewhat misleading about the process.

    There are two main routes to adopt in the UK (overseas adoptions are likely different – I don’t really have any knowledge of them). You can either go through one of the councils or you can use a separate adoption agency.

    What happens is that all the kids that need adopting are the responsibility of the councils, so they want to place as many as possible. Any kids that they can’t place, they put on the national register. Thing is, this costs money, as they have to pay whoever finds a home for the kids. I’m not sure how much it is, but that’s a large part of how places like Barnardos are able to run.

    If you go through one of the adoption agencies (such as Barnardos) then once you are cleared to adopt, you have access to the national register. There are newsletters, websites, etc on which they display profiles of the kids needing adoption. If you see one that you think might be a good match, you contact their social worker and they get information about you. If everyone is happy then the process can continue.

    If you go through the council though, they want you to take one of their kids (as it saves them money). As such, they require you to sign a form saying that you will not use the national register for at least 3 months after being cleared, and instead the council social workers will show you profiles of kids that they think would be a good match. I think that this is the bit that they’re trying to change.

    The whole process of being cleared to adopt takes the best part of a year, if you are lucky – so that’s one thing they’re also working on changing.

  8. When we adopted the dog, we got to choose which one we wanted; list of available dogs, a morning session to meet them all, and so on.

    However we were screened (interviews, house visits), not just for general suitability but also for that specific dog (we were only allowed a collie because we live in the sticks and do a lot of walking).

    Surely some version of that is possible, except the whole system is founded on the “social worker knows best” principle.

  9. BiF (#5) has nailed it.

    It’s the same problem with all public sector reform. Yes, the proposed reform might have a few risks or problems, but the important question isn’t whether it’s perfect but whether it’s better than the current crock of shite.

    Almost (please note that ‘almost’) any adopted parent will be better than the average care home.

    It’s like Eoin Clarke bleating about the occasional problem in healthcare outsourcing whilst ignoring the huge problems in the NHS. Or the complaints about free schools promoting inequality while seeming happy that the current system fails to teach large numbers even to read and write.

  10. So it takes a year to ensure that adopting parents have all the right qualifications. But making babies the old fashioned way doesn’t require any qualifications. Why bother with all this natural selection argument when the process up to birth is totally different.

    The only qualification any parent needs is love.

  11. Well, the problem is that if somebody (the State, an agency) gives a child to a couple and then the couple do bad things, the State or the agency will get blamed for it, unlike the natural method which has no third party involved. Because the State or agency has actively placed the child into the bad situation.

    To be honest, I don’t think any of the political or social ideological groupings- left, right, religious, libertarian, whatever- have really got to grips with this problem of child protection and children in general. They’re not fit to be free individuals, they’re not just property; dependents in general (children, the senile, the insane, the profoundly disabled) need some form of protection of their rights, but it’s always a bit of a bodge.

  12. @12 – that’s only because a) They have yet to think of an effective regulatory approach which won’t result in revolution, and b) they need a steady supply of new members of the client state…

    @13 This is partly because the public being mathematically illiterate (and the media being a bunch of fools) make more fuss over one life ruined by the state handing over a kid to an abuser, than over hundreds of lives ruined by kids being left in the state care system.
    It’s also the result of lefty mission creep, where “child abuser” has been taken from meaning “nonces” to “bloke who smokes and calls folk wogs and pakis when a bit drunk down the pub”.

  13. Every year or two there is a media storm about some abused child dying. From reports done, changes are made in how things are done, and life carries on.
    From what I recall about Baby P not so long back, there had been many kids abused prior to him. The result was a lovely paper trail a mile wide so was easy to see what had or had not been done afterwards. Didn’t make any difference in saving that one child, unknown how many other hundreds or thousands such changes had managed to save.

    I’m against all child abuse, as I’m sure many others on here are. Can’t help thinking that the ones I get to hear about on the news are mostly not adopted…. is it because the current system is bad but does prevent most abusive placements?

  14. If you had to adopt three at time you wiould be so tired and poor that lfe would be like a family in the 50s. ? ie normal.

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