Concurrency - have your say

(27 Posts)
Sworker1 Wed 19-Feb-14 20:50:20

Hi there,

I am an adoption social worker working for a local authority who have not yet actively put together a workable policy for concurrent planning - this has been tasked as my job over the coming months. One of the perks of coming into concurrent planning late is that hopefully we can benefit from feedback of those who have been involved in other areas.

So if you are working towards, have been successful or have had positive or negative experiences with concurrent planning I would love to hear from you. Please use your insight and experience to potentially help others have a smoother journey!

Many thanks in advance

Middlesexmummy Thu 20-Feb-14 11:09:37

Hi , as a lot of posters know , we did the concurrency thing with our dd then 6 months with an LA who, when initially approached us about it ( 2 weeks after approval) gave us assurances etc about the placement order being sought and did really play down everything else . What I mean by tgis is of course they tell you about contact but what they don't tell you is that contact with a young people can be up to 5 times a week which is very hard when you are working . Ours was 3 times a week but even that meant me speaking to my work and asking if I could work from home , do unsocial hours etc plus without the support of my mum who practically moved in during that time I could nt have done it . Also , adopters at that time ( only 2012) were not prepared for concurrency in my la. Foster carers know what they are letting themselves in for , they know that they are providing a stable home for the child on s temp basis till either the BM can get her act together or a home is found . As adopters you don't get any of that prep. In fact the professionals should get training on how to deal with concurrent adopters as in our situation we got a call on the weds that the court had decided how much contact there would be and then an hour later a jobs worth from the la ringing us up and basically barked down the schedule for visits , the times the dates , get her ready for 10 etc etc . So much to deal with .... There was also the issue with the BM and I . She was not aware of us as wanting to adopt dd so when she did all hell broke loose. A contact book was set up and basically I dealt with her abuse , her complaints that the change bag wasn't right etc . She even complained that I sent dirty bottles and instructed me to use sterilising tabs . This resulted in the sw having to come round to see what I used . It was satisfying in that she saw that I had a whole sterilising unit but still , I felt insulted ! There is so so much to say on this subject and I've not even started on the view of employers with concurrency . I will say that I felt at the time the la were more supportive of the BM than us which was soul destroying . Thankfully things are great now and she will be. 2 next month but I really urge anyone who is considering this to develop a good support system and a thick skin......

Middlesexmummy Thu 20-Feb-14 11:11:51

Oops meant to say contact with young babies not yp....

Sworker1 Thu 20-Feb-14 19:37:55

Hi Middlesex mummy,

Thank you for your feedback. I am pleased you are settled now with your LO but sorry to hear the struggles, although I am not surprised. Politically all LAs have to offer concurrency and I believe have done so without fully knowing the complications and preparations which need to take place. Hopefully after holding off for two years, we can learn from previous attempts and do things better. That said, concurrency is always going to be a traumatic and contentious subject as you are inviting further uncertainty into the lives of adopters who have already been through so much already. Would you mind saying whether you felt you could properly attach to your daughter during this time of uncertainty or did you feel unable/unwilling to do this until placement and adoption orders were granted? I am just wondering whether the concurrent route allowed you to bond with your child earlier or whether the additional stress took its toll on your early relationship?

If you have time, I would be interested to know how your employers coped with this, as I know many have had difficulties in getting the correct payments and time off.

Kind regards

Middlesexmummy Thu 20-Feb-14 19:53:10

Hello again
Our expectations were set up to believe that she was with us from day 1 that she was here to stay it was only as the days went by that our hopes started to sway . It wasn't helped by the fact that the sw s did a complete u turn . Going from yeah the po is a dead cert to well we can't predict what the court will decide . I think comments like that were not v helpful . I haven't got a downer on sw s as I work
In a similar profession and know that there are some excellent ones but it's the system that is not on the side of the concurrent adopter so I think that needs to change .... In terms of attachment I think that anyone who has a gorgeous Bonny six month old plonked on them with an hours notice one October afternoon would find it hard not to attach ... In relation to your other question re employer , they were v understanding as I have been there for nearly 15 years and I was able to work a lot of hours . Between dd being placed with us and the po coming through it was 3 months so I didn't get any official time off . We did receive an allowance but as she was a baby it was very little and couldn't allow me to not work .. Hope this helps

Hels20 Fri 21-Feb-14 08:21:58

Sworker - my husband and I have recently adopted. We did strongly consider concurrency but were put off - not so much by the fact that the child might return to the birth parents (I have to have trust (however misplaced that trust might be) that the courts and SS will get it right that if a child IS able to be returned to the birth parents then that is the right result) - but by the huge difficulties that would be caused by work. Living in London - it can be hard to get by on one income - and I did not want to give up my job and adoption leave to go down this route when a child might not come from it. It's probably asking the impossible - but if there was statutory job protection, we would probably have done it.

Separately, when our circumstances changed - such that I did not necessarily need to return to work - having been approved as adopters - it then seemed we had to go through further assessment and training to become concurrent adopters - there was very little encouragement, everything seemed to work against us. For what its worth, I think SS need to be flexible so that, if someone who has been approved as an adopter, then wants to become a concurrent adopter, that you can almost do a "fast track" assessment/training - which would take 3 or 4 weeks - rather than months.

Not sure if this opinion helps at all - but as we did consider concurrency - wanted to give you my view!

daisygrabber Fri 21-Feb-14 13:41:21

This is something I think is a fabulous idea for all concerned. Having already got a BC, I think it would be easier to introduce a AC at a younger age than typical AC age (easier for the BC as more like another BC?) However, my reservations are as expressed above: loss of employment & adoption leave without necessarily resulting in AC plus lack of experience in all dealing with it with it being a new idea.
Definitely the way forward though but needs to be done right.

trampstamp Fri 21-Feb-14 16:36:43

I was a foster carer for 7 years and now am an adopter we did look into concurrency

but what worried us was our ability and any ones to be fair to the birth parents part of the duty of contact is to report back fairy about things that have happened during contact and I don't ever thing anyone can be fair when they have a vested interested and so much is at stake.also as stated by Middlesex mummy because there is so much at stake it leaves adopters open to allegations by birth parents who will literally say anything to get there child back

I am not sure how you are going to get over that particular hump

And please don't get me started on contact centre staff who are about as useful as my cat

trampstamp Fri 21-Feb-14 16:38:07

Also a definite time scale would be needed I know what ss are like and cases can run and run while BP are given yet another chance

FamiliesShareGerms Sat 22-Feb-14 04:40:16

We would never have considered concurrency because we have a BC. I don't know how we could have explained to him that the sibling that had been living with us for months was going back to their other family for good. At least with fostering everyone knows the deal from the outset.

Sorry , that doesn't really help answer your question!

flowerpowerlondon Sat 22-Feb-14 09:28:33

Hi

I'm also interested in any experiences of cc as well. We have just had the last of our prep training and it included having a sw discuss this with us. We had dismissed it fairly early on as not an option due to a few reasons including leaving work with no certainty of actually getting an adoption order and no adoption pay, having to still encourage a child/ren (even though under 2 years at our LA) in thinking they may return to a BP/s which would be a conflict of interest to us as we would be wanting to adopt them. Having to do BP contact visits between 2-4 a week which would be mentally hard especially as we would be wanting to adopt the lo ourselves and a lot to organise not including contact visits with any other siblings that my not be with the BP's. That BP's would know we wanted to adopt their lo and try to make us look to be poor parents as someone has mentioned in saying we have not say dressed the child warmly enough, provided bottles food etc. We do realise that if getting a child say a baby from hospital or directly from BP there are loads of positives in terms if attachment, less moves etc so lots of positives too.

On top of all this our greatest concern would be the chance even if slim that the child/ren actually return to the bps. I did wonder how often this happens especially going forward with so much focus on bp rights etc at the moment. If we did do cc planning and the child returned to the bp's I really feel it would be an extreme emotional impact as we would be making a positive emotional commitment to a child/ren from the beginning on the basis that there is a strong likelihood they we will adopt them.

We did wonder after having it discussed at our prep training if we had been too quick to dismiss the idea of it and I would be really interested in hearing any positive or negative experiences from families who have done cc already. Thanks

Middlesexmummy Sat 22-Feb-14 11:25:49

Hi , I know that I have painted the negatives as we have been through it but .... I don't think that the LA would have asked us about our dd if they didn't think that there was a v v strong chance of the placement order being granted . And I think that as professionals they wouldn't necessarily put you at risk .The lowest percentage ever given to us was 90 so it was worth the risk .... The other positives are that chances r that a baby will be placed with you which is what we wanted and since she has been with us from 6 months she only knows us ... For us the biggest worries were work and contact but we got through it ... If you are willing to take the risk then do it I would say....

trampstamp Sat 22-Feb-14 11:41:46

Also I would worry about LA using this to ease the foster carer shortage

Eg knowing a child may go home telling the adopters it's a dead cert knowing the child may well go home but because so desperate for a place to put the child.

I have read this happened to another lady on auk very sad she has need up with a. Child who is more than likely going home now the relationship between her and LA is fraught it is unlikely she will go a again

Sworker1 Sat 22-Feb-14 21:38:27

Thank you for all your comments - please keep them coming. And for people considering, or who have dismissed cc adoption it is great to air your thoughts and anxieties and will hopefully aid my local authority in providing more succinct answers to feArs of cc.

Trampstamp, I am shocked to hear that this may be used as a plug to foster care shortage - esp as adopters are in even shorter suPply than foster carers in most local authorities, and finding foster care for babies is usually a lot easier than for say, older children or sibling groups. I think a lot of agencies are struggling to implement cc in the form in which it is intended which is a real shame.

KristinaM Sun 23-Feb-14 07:57:55

I know a family who did CC and they also faced false allegations, but from the birth family's social worker. She made it clear that she didn't approve of the decsison to have the child placed in CC and was very invested in the child going back to the birth family. She was very hostile and aggressive with the potential adopters, made multiple visits each week at short notice and complained that they were " uncop operative " when they couldn't be available

Contact with BF was arranged at bizarre time eg between 3.05 and 3.45 in a macdonalds on the other side of the city where they lived, when the adoptive dad was at work ( with their car ) so it was two bus journeys away

She made medial appointments for the child and phoned up demanding that the AF keep them. She even met them once at the doctors surgery and sat in the waiting room .

She said there had been a no anonymous complaint about their care of the child but wouldn't give any details and this was recorded against them.

It got to the point that they had to arrange a third party to be present at every visit as she made false claims about them. Eventually they had a lawyer write to the authority asking for her to be replaced as there was a conflict of interest, but they refused as they said they didn't have anyone else.

Eventually the child was removed but not to the birth family. The SS said they were a bad placement as they couldn't get on with professionals ( even though she was the only person they had problems with and the family GP wrote supporting their complaint, which was eventually upheld ) .

No they didn't go on to adopt again. In fact they moved out of the county as they were so scared of this woman and her threats to their remaining child

Meita Sun 23-Feb-14 12:59:48

We are considering it.

My main worry about it is that the fostering and the adoption teams at LAs don't appear to really work with each other, nor even to understand each other's work properly.
I believe that it would be helpful for the prospective adopters to have a fostering mental attitude to the whole process, as well as the desire to adopt a child. This should be reinforced at every step of the way. Unfortunately, though we have expressed interest in CP from the very first contact onwards, we have only been prepped regarding adoption. Mention of CP has been sporadic and, tbh, quite uninformed (despite us continually asking). I think this is at least partly due to the SWs having been in 'adoption' for ages and having little or no experience of 'fostering', and no regular exchanges with the fostering teams.
I worry that this lack of communication and understanding between the teams can eventually lead to problems, which we will then bear the brunt of.

For instance, every 'adoption team' person we have talked to so far (with one lonely exception), has told us that they didn't consider CP an option for us, because we have a BC. Whereas every 'fostering team' person we have talked to so far, has said that if properly done, having a BC should not be a problem - lots of fosterers have birth children, having a birth child rarely prevents someone from fostering. Nor does having a birth child prevent fosterers from going on to adopt their foster child.
FWIW we have been talking to our birth DS about there being children whose parents can't look after them, so someone else needs to look after them, and that we might do that. He knows that our SW comes to see us (we are in stage 2) to help us get ready for looking after a baby. He is a bit ambivalent about a baby moving in with us, but that is to be expected. If baby were later to be 'upgraded' to being a new sibling, that is not without its problems but can certainly be managed. If baby were instead at some point to return to BM, again it would be painful, as it (apparently) always is when foster children move away, but it would NOT be a totally unexpected loss of a 'sibling'.
For us, we are trying to see a potential return of baby to BM as a good thing. If we have grown to love the baby, then surely we should be glad for baby to be spared the trauma of having to be adopted. Despite being saddened of course that we will no longer be a part of this beloved baby's life.

In fact, in some ways having a BC already can make you the ideal CP carer: For instance if you are a SAHM, there are none of the job/finances related problems to contend with.

We talked to a VA who would have taken us on, as prospective CP carers. They invited us to 2 days of a fostering prep course, to be followed by two days of an adoption prep course (we then decided for other reasons, not to go with them). That seems to me to be a lot better (though not perfect) than what LAs seem to be doing. Every LA we have talked to said that they would prep&assess us as adopters and then IF a CP placement came up, would talk to us about the fostering stuff and give us a crash course in fostering. I think that is NOT good enough. For us, it is not a huge problem, because we are doing a lot of our own research into fostering; but the chances are that (many) prospective adopters are going into CP without a proper understanding of the fostering part of it. Including the risks (such as false allegations, addresses becoming known) and time commitments involved (contact, writing logs, going to all sorts of meetings).

I think that both fostering and adopting come with their own specific difficulties, and CP carers should be prepared for, and understand, both. For instance with adoption, the life-long commitment aspect; for instance with fostering, the legal situation and uncertainties. I don't think that either of them is 'easier' than the other, just different. None of them should be added as an 'afterthought'.

As CP placements usually involve very young babies, I believe it is important for prospective CP carers to fully understand the uncertainties surrounding potential development. Given that recently, the majority of adoptions have been of toddlers or pre-schoolers, much of adoption preparation focuses on this age group, whereas little time is spent on what it means to adopt a baby, maybe a baby moving in with you straight from hospital a few days after birth.

Another point which bothers me, is that no-one seems able to tell us anything about how 'linking' works with CP placements. As I understand, if you are going to adopt 'traditionally', you get shown a profile, you express interest, then you get access to all sorts of background information, medical, history, talk to foster carers/nursery teachers, before actually deciding that you want to take this to matching panel. The commitment is lifelong, so it is only right that you know exactly what you are letting yourself in for. However, in a concurrency placement, the commitment is equally life-long. But what information do you get, and when? How can you make such far reaching decisions, if you are told as little about the baby in question as a typical FC would be told, perhaps with the only addition that 'it is highly likely that there will be a placement order for this child within a reasonable time frame'.
It has been said that as initially fosterers, we could not legally access the same amount/type of information about the baby, and its parents/background, as we would in a traditional adoption scenario. Due to data protection and privacy rules and stuff, which I totally understand. It does mean, as a consequence, that there is a massively increased uncertainty regarding the background of the child. I was led to understand that legally, we could not be told if the baby's birth parents had significant mental health issues, or if they had drug&alcohol issues, etc. It was implied that SW would 'obviously' tell us what they knew but weren't actually legally able to, so could never put anything on paper. Now I happen to have an aunt who is a SW in fostering and she has implied to me that LAs have to disclose everything they know (in traditional adoption) to prevent becoming liable to litigation. However in such a situation where they CANNOT legally provide such information, that would also neatly remove them from risking litigation if they somehow 'forget' to mention that BM was binge-drinking 5 times/week throughout the pregnancy.

And yet, after all this, we are still considering it. Not thanks to our LAs efforts, but despite them ;)
We just see too many benefits to be able to discard it easily. Benefits to the child who would one day be OUR CHILD, to weigh up with risks and difficulties for US. In our own personal inwards search of deciding which 'degree of altruism' we can do, e.g. can we agree to having a child join our family when it would mean me becoming a lifelong carer, and never being able to get a job again; we are finding that the kind of sacrifices we would make for a concurrency placement, easier to imagine than quite a few other sacrifices we might CHOOSE to make. And, if we were approached about a child for a concurrency placement, but also had the choice to adopt the same child 'traditionally' half a year later, after the child had been with FCs for that time and after the placement order having come through, it would be a no-brainer for us. WE can deal with the uncertainty and risks, much better than baby can deal with the extra move and being in foster care of unpredictable quality.

Sorry that this is so long; as you can see, it is a subject close to my heart!

Middlesexmummy Sun 23-Feb-14 17:02:16

Hello Meita ,
We were shown the PAR for our dd but told we only had 24 hours to decide due to nature of the case.

Meita Sun 23-Feb-14 17:11:37

Thanks Middlesexmummy! 24h to decide seems very little, though I do understand that the nature of common concurrency cases (such as, baby removed at birth and goes home from hospital to carers) may make very short timescales a requirement.
OP that would be another point to take into consideration when planning how to organise things; prospective concurrency carers need to be supported to reach a position where they are able to make very quick decisions.

MrsDeVere Sun 23-Feb-14 20:21:52

I am a kinship adopter so we were concurrent adopters although the term was not used.

Our son was placed with us at 8 weeks and we were immediate asked if we would be willing to adopt if the birth mother's assessment didn't go well.
We were shocked to be asked as as far as we knew the birth mother just needed more help. It was her first baby and she was very young.

We were expected to facilitate 4 x 4 hour contacts a week plus another relative having contact at the weekend.

You cannot care for a child properly without giving your love to them. This is hard enough for foster carers who know that the child will be moving on at some point.
How families, who may have been waiting years for a baby, who may have undergone years of infertility treatment, are supposed to cope with this highly charged situation, I don't know.

I understand the idea behind concurrency but I don't know how it can be fair on any of the adults involved.

Sworker1 Sun 23-Feb-14 21:12:08

Hi all,

I think we can all agree that CP isn't always fair on the adults, but it's principles dictate that adults can handle the instability and have better access to support networks than a tiny baby. It aims to take the transition away from children by directly placing the stress of transitions onto the adults.

Meita, your comments are invaluable, thank you. Most certainly about fostering and adoption social workers having confusion about each other's roles. Luckily for me I am an independent social worker and complete freelance work for both voluntary and statutory fostering and adoption agencies, my background however is in child protection. It is in recognition of this discord between fostering and adoption teams that my LA have asked me to head up this project. In my opinion, you have obv carefully considered and researched your options and your LA should be champing at the bit to prepare you and support you through concurrency. However, I have to sympathise with my colleagues, politically all local authorities have had to implement CP with the threat of closure of the department looming over if government changes are not implemented ASAP, this has been imposed without training, changes to the legal process, or consultation with hmrc about employees rights or most importantly without consulation with aspiring or successful adopters. Particularly questions around information sharing and how this can be shared fairly and legally need to be answered, but this is a question the courts need to consider. No one should be in a position to be asked to potential adopt a child without having the relevant information and this is what is happening with CP all over the country.

MrsDeVere Sun 23-Feb-14 22:27:49

Wanting it to be fair on the adults does not mean I don't want it to be fair on the children.

We all know that the best interests of the child are supposed to be at the core of the system. It is the ideal. I think we can all agree that we still have an awful long way to go before that ideal is reached smile

I know what CP is and what it is for. I have already explained we were unwitting guinea pigs for the CP model.

It is interesting that this was 10 years ago and CP still hasn't taken off.

Why is that do you think?

In our case neither the foster care team nor the adoption team took responsibility for us.

I do hope things have changed.

Meita Sun 23-Feb-14 23:13:03

Mrsdevere, whilst I strongly agree that CP can be very unfair or even doomed to fail in some cases. However I equally believe that there may be circumstances,with the 'right' combination of child and prospective adopters, where it need not be so extremely troublesome. I agree that you'd have to be an incredibly strong person to go through the uncertainty and emotional pain of CP, if, as you said, you had years of infertility, failed treatment, perhaps pregnancy losses, behind you. And perhaps it has never taken off just because the majority of adopters come from such experiences. However there are also adopters who choose adoption over other options, and hence perhaps have less emotional conflict going on. Then it may be easier to deal with.

Just as adopting a child with known significant medical needs/uncertainties is not for everyone nor indeed for every adopter, CP should be explored with prospective adopters, but the choice should be according to individual circumstances, and no one should be led down this path without full understanding of what it involves, and deep reflection regarding what they can, and are willing to, deal with.

MrsDeVere Mon 24-Feb-14 08:41:59

I agree with you meita
I am not confident that the amount of support, information sharing and resources are possible under the current system.

drspouse Mon 24-Feb-14 15:19:00

We were considering concurrency having adopted our DS from overseas at a very young age. We had a good deal of contact (still do) with his birth family and felt this would be a plus, as we are not at all concerned about well-managed contact (we manage our contact ourselves in fact) and would be prepared to put our foot down about poor practice in contact.

We have also been told that it would be a case of telling DS that the new baby needed someone to look after them, and then later upgrading to a sibling if that's what happened.

Because DS was so very young when placed, we had little information beyond his current state of health and his prenatal history, some of which only emerged later in any case (though we had an inkling). We are hoping to adopt again (but again from overseas) and we just went through the "matching criteria" with our SW who said "this is all a nonsense really given the age you will be matched with".

We do know that there are FCs who were originally intending to just be FC and whose LAC proved to have such severe needs that an adoptive family could not be found so they stepped forward to adopt. We also assume there are FCs who made the decision not to adopt when a LAC proved to have such severe needs. We know we cannot do that with a new AC from overseas but I think we slightly had this in the back of our minds when considering concurrency - for us it would only be the case for extremely severe medical/development needs such as huge amounts of brain damage around the time of birth.

trampstamp Mon 24-Feb-14 16:10:43

Drspouse

This happens very rarely with FC and usually the child would have been in placement for years before you even get asked

It's actually frowned upon for FC to adopt we had a disabled child from the age of 3 because of the disability and it looked like the BF was not up to the job we were asked but that was after she had been in our care for 3 years before we got asked so she was 6 years old usually foster carers don't get asked until the child is classed as hard to place usually in terms of age

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