Is this really an adoption crisis?

The number of children being put forward for adoption has almost halved after warnings from judges over rushed and “sloppy” decision-making, throwing Michael Gove’s much-heralded reforms of the system into crisis.

Fewer adoptions being a crisis, well, it rather depends, doesn’t it? Are there fewer children who require adoption? That would be something of a victory, wouldn’t it?

In the ruling, Sir James said judges were becoming increasingly alarmed at the frequency with which children were being put forward for adoption when less “drastic” measures, such as being cared for by other relations, had not been considered.

He said it was time to “call a halt” to the tendency to apply for adoption orders based on “sloppy” or non-existent assessments of alternatives which would not irrevocably break-up families, something he condemned as a “lamentable state of affairs”.

Hmm. Too many people making too many claims to know what’s actually happening here.

10 thoughts on “Is this really an adoption crisis?”

  1. I had considered adoption, but with so many stories (Booker) about social workers abusing their positions, I was not willing to risk becoming part of such a scheme.

    We have already raised 4 children imho quite successfully, with one more now 14, so thought I might be suitable, so another volunteer squeezed out of what could/should be a good system by “social” policies.

  2. So Much for Subtlety

    It looks like what is happening is that the judges are pushing back against the quota system for Social Services – they have to find a certain number of adoptees and so are doing so on ever more flimsy grounds.

    Are there fewer children who require adoption? That would be something of a victory, wouldn’t it?

    That would depend. If, for instance, they were being burnt for Baal, most people would not see that as a victory. Some perhaps in these modern times, but not many. If they were being killed in utero that is generally a good thing it seems. The truth is likely to be that single motherhood is financially so well rewarded that babies are not being put up for adoption as much as they used to. Which is probably a bad thing. Not that being adopted is a barrel of laughs.

  3. Two different things.

    First one is ‘targetism’ ; any system games its targets. Education, Police, Health, all are gamed comically. Social Care is no different.

    The problem is a mismatch between those wanting to be adopted, and those wanting children to adopt. The people who want to adopt are very often looking for very young children – babies, or still in pushchairs. But many of those available for adoption are older, and can come with a lot of emotional baggage, social and educational and behavioural issues, experience with drugs, crime, violence – they’re old enough to say things like “you’re not my real mum, you can’t tell me to do this, XXXX off” things like that, whereas the younger ones are more of a ‘blank canvas’. This gets worse as they get older, in many if not most cases. (This, more than the failings of residential care, though it is contributory, is why so many former care residents end up in prison) There are some people who adopt older children and we should grovel at their feet but not enough. The one thing these children need is some sort of stability. Social Services do not provide it.

    What this means is SSDs have something like – very simply – a fairly stable group of children who are difficult to place, and a rotating group of children who are much easier to place. The tendency is therefore to hit targets by rotating the latter group faster, rather than finding places for the former, which is why they take babies almost, it seems, on a whim.

    More children are adopted, thus hitting government targets, but there may actually not be fewer children adopted (or if there are it is fiddling the figures)

    Abuse by social workers is fairly rampant, in an attempt to fix this. Basically they are not honest about the children’s history. The mentality of some SWs is that children are a bit like a box file they need to process ; once they are ‘processed’ (e.g. adopted) they are no longer ‘their problem’. This means people are increasingly loathe to foster or adopt ; we should be supporting the Alan’s of this world, but we don’t.

    Savile et al is also an issue. The number of fosterers/adopters who have allegations made about them is very high – I have heard 1 in 4 sort of levels. This is not because they are a risk themselves, it is a function of the sort of children they are taking under their wing ; to use a cliche, they often come from ‘broken homes’. The current gullibility and desperation to believe any old cr*p, however implausible, will (if it hasn’t already) filter through to this group (it is present in many SSDs anyway), who know already that if an allegation is made against them, SSDs go into CYA mode.

  4. “Are there fewer children who require adoption? That would be something of a victory, wouldn’t it?”

    By normal people, yes, but don’t councils qualify for extra helpings of taxpayer cash for successful adoptions?

  5. Too many people making too many claims to know what’s actually happening here.

    Indeed.
    But there’s one claim that is obvious bull. That LAs and family courts will always interpret the law in the same way.

  6. It seems to vary by region.

    We know (from leaked family court details) that there are many cases where social workers have confiscated babies on ridiculous grounds — probably the most notorious case being when they described the mother’s childhood over the phone to a psychologist who had never met her and he agreed that she would probably be likely to suffer from Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy (a condition that does not, in fact, exist): this was turned into a court order to remove any babies she ever gave birth to, without one iota of evidence ever even being offered that she was an unfit mother.

    However, in my part of NI, social workers bend over backwards to avoid taking babies, no matter how bloody obvious it is that their parents are unfit. In one case I know of, the mother had an unwanted pregnancy and decided to give birth and give the baby up for adoption rather than have an abortion. She had announced this intention and made the arrangements months in advance. The social workers refused to take the baby for adoption — despite having the new family lined up and waiting — without first spending considerable effort on trying to change the mother’s mind — effort that the mother had to resist hard if she didn’t want to be forced to keep the baby.

    It strikes me that cases like the latter probably contribute to the problem Paul identifies, of children being fucked up by being kept in bad or unwanting families too long and hence becoming near-enough unadoptable.

    > Too many people making too many claims to know what’s actually happening here.

    I think everything’s happening. Social services are certainly getting it right in some cases. They are also fucking up. When they fuck up, they may do so in a variety of directions. This being the case, claims about how social services, taken as a monolithic nationally coordinated entity, are doing things wrong may be doomed.

  7. S2 (and SMFS)
    Yes pretty much impossible to know what’s actually going on. Stats like comparative in care / fostered / adopted only get you so far.
    An old anecdote (well before Gove’s law): A couple were initially denied the right to adopt on the grounds that they lived in the countryside and the health visitor didn’t have a driving licence. They won on some sort of appeal system on the grounds that they were both doctors.

  8. bif,

    That’s brilliant. It’s the quintessence of bureaucratic fuckwittery.

    One acquaintance of mine was told by her health visitor that her (thin) daughter was overweight — and too tall.

  9. In NI, parents who give up their babies for adoption get to specify whether said babies are Protestant or Catholic babies. Social services will then insist that the children are brought up “correctly”. If you’re an atheist or a Jew or a Muslim or just not from Ireland and therefore not invested in the bullshit, this effectively excludes you from adopting.

    We looked into adopting from abroad and discovered that it’s run as a moneyspinner by social services. If you’re not rich, forget it.

    Also, if you do succeed in adopting from abroad, you will be required to attend regular social gatherings of other people who have adopted from the same country, so that “your” child can spend time among their own kind. Apparently, this is for progressive anti-racist reasons. Wouldn’t want the darkies growing up thinking they were the same as the rest of us, would we?

  10. One acquaintance of mine was told by her health visitor that her (thin) daughter was overweight — and too tall.

    I don’t know about the health worker, but I bet the associated social worker was the size of a blue whale. It’s ironic that the departments which are most judgements like about children being overweight are stuffed to the gunwales with porkers.

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