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The CEO of Adoption UK has Answered Your Questions

(36 Posts)
FrancescaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 19-Mar-19 13:32:25

Are you thinking of adopting? Or in the processes of doing so? Or have questions about the process you went through?

Now is your chance to ask the questions you want answered, or perhaps the questions you were too afraid to ask!

On Tuesday, March 26th Sue Armstrong-Brown, the chief executive of Adoption UK, will be coming to Mumsnet to answer all your adoption questions.

Sue also has an adopted daughter so has personally been through the adoptive process herself.

The adoption process can be confusing, emotionally exhausting, but also exciting. We’ve asked Sue to join us at Mumsnet, to clear up any confusion and put your nerves at ease by answering as many of your questions as she can (within reason!)

Just pop your comment or question in the thread and we’ll ask Sue.

Look out for the video next week!

PetuniaPetunia Tue 19-Mar-19 16:20:24

What percentage of children who have been in Concurrency placements end up being adopted by their foster carers? How about Foster for Adoption?

LewisFan Tue 19-Mar-19 18:12:43

I am desperate to adopt but dont have a spare room or the ability to move, but that's not my question!

Will open adoption (like in the States) ever make its way to the UK? I do wonder what the impact of both types of adoption are on the children, but some examples of open adoptions I have seen appear positive.

UnderTheNameOfSanders Tue 19-Mar-19 19:56:59

How would you recommend an adult-teen goes about building contact directly with a birth parent?
Can you recommend strategies for minimising any negative impact on younger sibling who is not yet ready for contact themselves?

What support is there in general for adoptive parents of older teens?

Iamthestorm Tue 19-Mar-19 20:48:50

Can you recommend any story books for young children with a fta type of scenario. My child is three and has been with me since birth. She has no interest in adoption whatsoever and we've yet to find a book that is close to her story to try to initiate some gentle conversations.

DonutCone Wed 20-Mar-19 06:33:56

Why is there no legal framework that safeguards the right of siblings who are adopted separately? Contact after adoption seems to become optional for the adoptive parents and often seems to be dropped despite the best interests if the children.

hidinginthenightgarden Wed 20-Mar-19 12:57:16

This may not be a question you personally can answer, but we have had real frustrations with how much the system favours the birth family over adoptive family. All the way through the process, even after our daughter had been living with us for ) months, hadn’t seen her birth parents for a year and would recognise them either due to age, they were still allowed to cause upset by contesting the adoption. Surely that should be done before the child is put with adoptive parents and not after as u believe is the case in Scotland? We constantly found ourselves wondering why the system bent over backwards for these people who had had their children removed due to poor choices, and yet there was little or no support for us. The family taking on the child with an uncertain future and being made to feel like we were second choice.

ThatPairOfCats Wed 20-Mar-19 17:07:28

Why is it not standard to have support in place for EVERY care experienced child throughout their life? We shouldn't have to fight for support it should be there. I'm talking proper therapy too not just social work visits. Early intervention is key and often by the time support arrives further damage has been done.

Are there any plans for legal protection around unwelcome and unplanned social media contact between birth family and adoptees, initiated from either side? Particularly when it's encouraged that adoptees know their life history making it easier to trace birth family.

FleaBagg Thu 21-Mar-19 18:12:09

Whenever adoption is mentioned on Mumsnet, several posters will pipe up and insist that all adopted children are damaged This simply isn't true and is unfair on the children. My adopted DD is now 15 and has never been any trouble. She isn't damaged; she is resilient, trusting, strong, kind, brave, optimistic (I could go on smile) and a "dream student"

How can we counter this misconception and make adoption more (for want of a better word) appealing to childless couples. Adopting our DD was the best thing DH and I ever did and I hate to see people on MN dismissing adoption.

imintenseoriminsane Thu 21-Mar-19 18:27:03

Do you think the current advertising 'push' that encourages people to adopt is fair on prospective adoptive parents? We spent 6 years in the system (a year wait to get on a prep course, a full assessment passed with flying colours, 6 months in matching, an enforced 18 month 'pause' due to a change in my long term health condition, a second prep course and full re-assessment passed and then 18 months failing to be matched) before we were told we were unlikely to ever get a match as children's social workers wanted 'the happy ending' and that did not include a disabled mum. This is despite having a birth child who got glowing reviews from all who met him and having worked for 20 years with children with additional needs. Have to say we felt very angry and disillusioned by the process and feel we wasted 6 years of our lives (and limited fertility) on a process that strung us along and ultimately spat us out!

.....and now I'll hurry off to name change as that is far too identifying!

UnderTheNameOfSanders Thu 21-Mar-19 19:02:16

To be fair Flea I could have said that about my DD1 when she was 15.
Then she turned 16 and went to college. The last 3 years have nearly broken me.

I agree though you should never say all. Some are more impacted than others.

Peghi Thu 21-Mar-19 19:14:47

Can people with long term health conditions/past history of diseases like cancer adopt? How much focus is there on health background un potential adopters.

BuggerOffAndGoodDayToYou Thu 21-Mar-19 19:15:44

When a couple have already jumped through all the (totally necessary) hoops, including written questionnaires and interviews with friends and family, and then successfully adopted a baby who is now five years old, happy, loved, thriving. .....now they would like to adopt a second child they have to start all over again, with the same questionnaire and interviews of friends and family...... they have already proven themselves good adoptive parents.... so WHY?

Duckyneedsaclean Thu 21-Mar-19 23:24:58

Can you choose who can adopt your child? (In a voluntary adoption)

darkriver19886 Fri 22-Mar-19 05:26:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

DaveSpondoolix Fri 22-Mar-19 05:40:51

What has BMI got to do with how competently someone can parent?

topcat2014 Fri 22-Mar-19 22:21:53

@DaveSpondoolix it is used as a proxy for whether a person is likely to remain healthy until the child reaches adulthood.

MillyCoddler Fri 22-Mar-19 22:42:21

I thought questions were to be answered by Sue Armstrong Brown, not mumsnetters.

Thepinklady77 Sat 23-Mar-19 08:46:04

Millycodder spot on. This is a great opportunity but this thread is in danger of spiralling if people take it upon themselves to comment on everyone’s questions. please remove anything that is not a question and put a reminder that questions only are wanted. People can start their own thread if they want a wide range of views on a particular question or issue?

Sunonthepatio Sat 23-Mar-19 23:20:21

How do you choose parents who won't tell their adoptive child's story to anyone else? I've noticed that some adoptive parents are not good at this.

QuiQuaiQuod Mon 25-Mar-19 18:34:03

Completely agree with hidinginthenightgarden.
And why, as adoptive parents, the child is OUR child, and we have a right to know our kids medical DNA history.
How else can we know if our kid has future illnesses or unknown to us problems?

But as the poster above says, the birthparents rights are more important than ours.
They are OUR child, and we have full rights to know.

But no, we are told they have, by law, patient confidentiality. we are not interested in them, just the medical history, what if there are major mental health issues, -our child has phsycotic issues, very violent, yet we are told nothing that our child's past medical history is awash with MH problems.

Plus, child is 18 chronologically so has a right to know, but has a mental age of around 5, so we as parents have to be spokespeople, so WE have a right to know, so we can get the right support for our child and us.

ans sunonthepatio agree, our child and our childs history are no one elses business , on a need to know basis only.

GeordieGenes Mon 25-Mar-19 21:18:58

I'd quite like to adopt one day, but the process puts me off. From what I've heard, it's time-consuming, undignified (imparts), and overly-complicated. I realize that you have to check that the people applying are doing it for the right reasons, but I do feel that the process could be simplified/ less-intrusive in places.

Any comments on this?

PoppyStellar Mon 25-Mar-19 21:57:11

In my experience, schools rarely have a good understanding, or any understanding at all, of attachment and the impact early trauma can have on children. Do Adoption UK have any plans to lobby the government for training on attachment to be part of teacher training programmes?

Iamthestorm Tue 26-Mar-19 05:51:54

Can you explain a bit about how pupil premium plus works please. Locally it seems that all of the money is pooled in each school to pay for things like parent support advisors or reading schemes for all children. I had heard that ppp for lac and adopted children was going to be ringfenced for this group and the focus for this money would be on social and emotional development. Do you think there will be changes coming in the future to protect some of the funding for lac/adopted children?

FrancescaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 28-Mar-19 12:26:56

Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for your questions. We received so many insightful and thoughtful questions. Sorry if we didn't get to yours, but I don't think anyone would have wanted a half an hour video!

You should find this thread has been updated with a video embedded into it, where Sue Armstrong Brown answers your questions.

App users, you can see the video here

For more helpful information on adoption please check out Adoption UK:

Adoption UK is the leading charity providing support, community and advocacy for all those parenting or supporting children who cannot live with their birth parents.

Our Family Membership provides you with the support and legal advice you need, as well as opportunities to connect with people who understand your family, and ways to help influence the decisions that affect the lives of adoptive families everywhere. Find out more here

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:26:48

Hi @Poppy Stellar - Adoption UK here. Unfortunately Sue wasn't able to respond all of the questions put to her in the video due to time restraints - so we'll be replying to all those which weren't answered in this thread.

In answer to your question, you’re absolutely right. Adoption UK’s Equal Chance Campaign is calling for training in attachment and trauma to be included in the initial teacher training (ITT). You can read more about the campaign here: www.adoptionuk.org/equal-chance-campaign

We know that all over the UK, tens of thousands of children are walking into their classrooms carrying an invisible backpack of the legacy of adverse childhood experiences which impacts on their ability to learn, and to behave like other children. These children deserve an equal chance in school, and their teachers deserve the support, training and resources they need to make sure that happens.
A report by Adoption UK warns that many adopted children, who have often had traumatic early years, are struggling to cope emotionally at school and are failing academically as a result.

The report, Bridging the Gap, describes a school environment that is failing children and teachers and is affecting schools’ performance in league tables. It identifies significant gaps in understanding, empathy and resources that are preventing adopted children from having an equal chance to succeed at school.

To inform the report, Adoption UK conducted a survey of emotional wellbeing at school. Almost 4,000 adoptive parents and children responded.

We found that nearly 60 percent of them had received no training on the impact of trauma in their schools in the past three years. Since September, every school in England has had to have a designated teacher for previously looked after children.

Almost 80 percent of designated teachers who responded to our survey told us that they had been given no extra funding or time to carry out that role.

Care experienced children are more likely to be excluded and to leave school with no qualifications.

We’re calling for a system which resources schools to go the extra mile for children who need it and recognises them when they succeed. Teachers would have the training and support they need to get the best out of every student and, where children cannot manage in a mainstream school, pathways to superb alternatives would be easily accessible.

Adoption UK is proposing 3 key changes: A specialist programme of continuing professional development to equip all educators to support traumatised children; more emphasis on emotional and social skills; and ensuring that all children can access the same level of specialist support in school no matter where they live in the UK.

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:35:22

Hi @Iamthestorm

Unlike the Pupil Premium grant for disadvantaged children, which aims to reduce the attainment gap caused by economic disadvantage, Pupil Premium Plus is awarded in recognition that many adopted and permanently placed children need extra support in school because of the circumstances that led to them being placed into care, and later being adopted or being placed on a SGO or CAO.

Therefore, according to the Department for Education Q&A document on PP+ (2014), it ought to be spent on “helping these children emotionally, socially and educationally by providing specific support, to raise their attainment and address their wider needs.”

The same document states that “it is not intended that the additional funding should be used to back-fill the general school budget nor . . . used to support other groups of pupils”. See link to the Q&A document, below:
www.pac-uk.org/department-education-response-main-queries-adopted-children-pupil-premium/

For more info see An Introduction to Pupil Premium Plus. www.adoptionuk.org/Handlers/Download.ashx?IDMF=c2d0ad9f-cb4b-4a01-8c0d-cb2f7814fbdd

Is PP+ ring-fenced?

Pupil Premium Plus is not ring-fenced either to the eligible cohort of children, or to an individual eligible child. This allows schools to, for instance, pool funds to employ a staff member to support a group of children which may include some who are not entitled to PP+, as long as the provision is primarily designed to support the PP+ cohort.

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:37:23

Hi @Geordie Genes

Adoption UK here.

The adoption process can seem very intense but it is necessary as most of the children who are placed for adoption come from a background of trauma and have suffered neglect and abuse. Parenting them can be very challenging and it is important to assess that prospective adopters have the strengths and resilience to undertake the challenges to parent them. It is important also to assess how prospective adopters’ own relationships and experiences will influence their parenting.

The first stage of the process should take around two months and this is when all the checks are done; including references, medical reports, financial and DBS checks. At the end of this period, the prospective adopters will receive a written decision from their adoption agency on whether they can proceed to stage two.

The second stage should take around four months and is the full assessment or home study. During this time the social worker gets to know you and your family. During this stage prospective adopters will receive training and preparation to provide them with the tools and knowledge to take on a more therapeutic approach to parenting.

This period culminates with the creation of a detailed report by the agency, followed by submission to the adoption panel. A decision is then made on whether the prospective adopter is suitable to adopt or not.

If you need more information please call out helpline - www.adoptionuk.org/helpline

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:39:35

Hi @Qui Quai Quod

Adoption UK here.

Under the Data Protection Act there is no legal right to see the parents medical notes without their consent. The birth parents would be encouraged by the agency to provide information on their medical history and it would be explained why it is important for the welfare of the child but they are under no obligation.

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:42:06

Hi @UnderTheNameOfSanders

Please find the answers to your questions, below:

Can you recommend strategies for minimising any negative impact on younger sibling who is not yet ready for contact themselves?

This can have an impact on younger siblings. Adoption UK would advise contacting the post adoption team for therapeutic help if things get tricky. It all depends on the individual though and the relationship between siblings and parents. We'd also suggest you call the AUK helpline or post adoption support at their local authority. Talk Adoption is also good for advice on teenagers.

What support is there in general for adoptive parents of older teens?

Post adoption team, Talk Adoption (part of After Adoption). We'd also recommend joining an adoption support group for parents – AUK offers groups across the UK. There are also courses/training on teenagers put on by AUK/PAC UK and our free helpline can provide a list of recommended books. The army of adopters on our online forums also have a wealth of knowledge - so join up if you haven't already. Here’s a link to our online forum:
forum.adoptionuk.org/forum

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:43:48

Hi @Iamthestorm

There are lots of books to help adoptees make sense of where they came from and to explain why they're experiencing certain feelings and anger. Examples include:

My Parents Picked Me!’ - By Pat Thomas and Lesley Harker
‘And Then you Arrived And We Became A Family’ – By Almud Kunert & Annette Hildebrandt
‘Nutmeg Gets Adopted’ – BAAF Publication by Judith Foxon

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:46:10

Hi @DonutCone

In an ideal world no sibling group would be separated. But in each individual case the social worker will look at what is in the best interest of each child.

There can be a number of reasons for siblings to be separated - they may be part of a big sibling group which can make it difficult for them all to be matched with the same adopters. They may have formed unhealthy trauma bonds with each other which make a home environment toxic and mean that instead of beginning to heal, they re-traumatise each other.

Other reasons to separate siblings include sibling on sibling abuse, or intense sibling rivalry. And sometimes siblings simply don't know their brothers and sisters well because of age difference and because they're in and out of foster care.

In Scotland Children’s minister Maree Todd MSP, has recently announced plans to amend the law to keep siblings together when they are placed in local authority care, where it is in their interests to do so:
www.scottishlegal.com/article/plans-to-improve-the-law-for-brothers-and-sisters-in-the-care-system

Regular contact between siblings placed in different adoptive families can be vital to help build trust, secure attachments and healthy relationships. However, some children will not be able to cope with this kind of contact and it has to be considered on a case by case basis.

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:48:10

Hi @ThatPairOfCats

In response to your question around social media there is currently no legal protection in place around birth parents contacting their children on social media. For advice for supporting a child with contact call our free and independent helpline - www.adoptionuk.org/helpline

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:49:43

Hi @Duckyneedsaclean

Birth parents can make suggestions - either of a specific person or type of person (e.g. religion). Local authorities should take parent wishes seriously but aren't obliged to fulfil these - especially for a named person they would still need to assess suitability to meet the child’s needs.

All prospective parents have to be assessed by social services. No individual case is the same.

AUK19 Thu 28-Mar-19 13:51:25

Hi @DaveSpondoolix

Your BMI will not automatically prevent you from adopting, only three things will automatically disbar you -https://www.first4adoption.org.uk/who-can-adopt-a-child/who-cant-adopt/

But the main thing about adoption is the focus has to be on the needs of the child...to be provided with a long term forever family. Not only will they look at somebody’s weight, they will look at their whole health and lifestyle.

Iamthestorm Thu 28-Mar-19 14:09:52

Thanks for answering my questions, both they and the video were really helpful.

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