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Been asked to go on an adoption panel

(22 Posts)
doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 18:43:08

I'm a local councillor and I've been asked to go on an adoption panel as part of my duties. I dont have to do it but I do think it would be an interesting thing to do.

However I've seen a lot of reservations from people posting here about panels and just wondered if you could tell me more about your experiences and partiuclar what attributes you want in a panel member (other htan unconditionally approving and matching you obviously!) and also what sort of things youd want them to avoid doing.

Hope you can help as I'm in two minds about this

doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 18:43:43

ps sorry for horrendous typing - dd 2+10 was "helping"

CarGirl Mon 25-Aug-08 18:53:02

I know people who are foster parents and people who were approved for adoption but no other experience.

YOu need to be aware of the statistics of how many non-white children in care and their chances of being adopted into an exact race match family - people get turned down as parents as not being the correct race match effectively meaning those children will spend their live in care.

There are no such things as perfect parents so I would be looking at "good enough"

Being realistic as to whether the parents are going to be able to cope with what they are being offered.

Those are just my off the cuff thoughts, aren't there any information courses you can go on etc?

bran Mon 25-Aug-08 19:07:24

Somebody has to do it, and on the whole I would prefer panel members to be ordinary people who don't have a campaign to wage or a wrong to right. It's really one of those jobs that is better done by people who don't want to do it but feel they have a duty. I would be suspicious of someone who actively seeks to be on an adoption panel. (I'm an adoptor BTW, I have one DS and we have just been approved as adoptors for a second child.)

doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 19:19:02

There are courses but as a rule they will tell me what social services want me to know, not what prospective parents want me to know

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Mon 25-Aug-08 19:22:14

Sounds daft but this doesn't sit right with me.

I think you should just make a decision on the information put before you, not be prepped before hand by potential adopters.

doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 19:31:06

I've been in politics for 14 years. I know from experience that I am given the information people want me to have and that when I go looking deeper into things I find that there is a whole raft of stuff they havent told me. Are you saying that you wouldn't want a panel member who has taken on board the view of potential adopters as well as that of social services? If so and if that is the consensus, then I will go on the panel with only the information provided by my local authority.

For the sake of clarity, I am not asking that you assist in me in interpreting the paperwork and making a decision. I am asking what sort of attitude you want from panel members, what type of questions you might want to be asked and what your own experience of panels were.

bran Mon 25-Aug-08 20:01:08

I know what you're saying DIODI, but it's quite difficult as an adoptor to have consider what an ideal panel member would be like when we have so little idea of what happens within the panel and what sort of people they are. For example we were at panel on Tuesday, there were about 18 people there and we were in the room for less than 10 mins. I don't know what they were like or what they thought of us or even what issues they considered after we had left.

I strongly suspect that a lot of panel members are a bit on the fluffy side of liberal and if there happens to be a panel member with strong views on a particular subject that the panel as a whole might be ineffective at contradicting these views for fear of seeming prejudiced. This is just a suspicion on my part obviously, which is why I said in my first post that a good panel member doesn't have an axe to grind.

KristinaM Mon 25-Aug-08 20:16:55

BTW you may also have to approve foster carers and do matchings as well as approve prospective adopters

i would like you to know a lot about adoption from the viewpoint of service users - that is children, adoptive families and birth families.

At present the service seems to be run for the benefit of staff, in this case social workers. Of course, there is also a public interest as well, in your case your council tax payers

i think you should inform yourself about the very complex needs of the children who will be your main clients. i woudl be most surprised if your training covers much on this as only a minority of adoption SW are up to date on this.Many of them seem to have a theororetical base that is based on adoption in the 1950s

i would want you to ensure that the reports you receive and the decisons made are evidence based. Sadly, the phrase "professional opinion" often covers a lot of incorrect assunmptions and prejudice.

basically, i think that if you are going to be an effective panel member you will end up being a pain in the * to many of the officers on the panel. Or you could be a yes man and keep them all happy.

Why don't you ask if you can sit in on a panel meeting to get a feel for their work?

i expect you know that members on panels have a terrible reputation for asking completely mad questions based on their personal hobby horses? wink

KristinaM Mon 25-Aug-08 20:19:16

forgot to say - everything in your second sentence is VERY relevant to adoption. a lot of things that are simple laziness are dressed up as "client confidentiality". you are wise to be suspicious

doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 20:31:16

I don't mind being a pain in the a*se to certain officers. After all this time they've come to expect it from me.

It wouldnt be doing foster carers. Its a big LA so has seperate panels for fostering and adoption.

doIordontI Mon 25-Aug-08 20:33:14

Bran your comment is helpful. To be honest I think its a strange system that makes decisions based on 10 minutes acquaintance and a few reports written by people who have thier own agenda.

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Mon 25-Aug-08 20:35:53

If you feel the SW have their own agenda maybe you should decline.

KristinaM Mon 25-Aug-08 20:42:26

if you are willing to put in a bit of time and effort, to find out about the needs of the children and families who should be served by the system, them i woudl say go for it smile

I'm not sure its a particularly high profile job though, if you are interested in moving on in politics. Though probably more rewarding than the finance sub-comittee on audit and less contentious than development control grin

if i can say it without sounding patronising, I am impressed by your willingness to listen to service users

bran Mon 25-Aug-08 20:45:34

Are you a SW INMGBSLM? There are plenty of SWs who allow their own preconceptions and preferences to affect their professional judgement IME. I have the exact opposite view to you, if the OP feels that all SWs are perfect professionalism personified then she would be much too naive to sit on the panel.

(Disclaimer: obviously there are plenty of very good SWs too, and we have been fortunate with most of the SWs that we have had dealings with.)

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Mon 25-Aug-08 20:54:20

No, just a mum.

I just don't feel right about this.

I have had a lot of experience of the care system and just are going on my instincts that is all.

YorkieGurl Mon 25-Aug-08 20:54:43

bran - i think she spent time in care as a child

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Mon 25-Aug-08 20:55:52

Thank YG, I can speak for myself.

Kewcumber Tue 26-Aug-08 12:50:48

the home study if pretty extensive IME, whether the socail worker has an agenda or not. IME (again) if the social worker disaproves of adopters they find a way to hound them out before they even reach the panel stage so you wouldn't have any input before then.

Generally a decent homestudy written by a professional social worker doesn;t need more then a thorough readiong of the report and 10 mins of discussion to approve parents. The real function of a panel (from an approval persepctive) is in my very personal view to try to spot a potential problem that the social worker may not have sufficiently considered.

No experience of matching in this country so no help there.

My panel asked fairly normal questions so no experience of difficult panel questions - though I was asked by (an asia) panel member "Will you think a child is second best if they are asian?" (adopting form a country with equal chance of caucasian or asian) - that was a bizarre question as you would have had to be quite dim to have answered "yes"!

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe - I'm not sure why you have an issue with someone asking adopters what they thought of panel before deciding to go on one - its just general research. I would be more worried about someone stumbling in uninformed.

Kewcumber Tue 26-Aug-08 12:57:39

My least favorite panel question -

"what experience do you have a children?"
"well I have 5 neices and nephews whom I am very close to and three of whom live 5 minuites away so have been very involved"
" YEs but they are teenagers, any experince of younger chidlren?"
"Ummm well yes but they weren't born as teenagers were they you idiot My friend has recently had a baby and I have spent a lot of time with her which is irrelevant as I won't be adopting a new born will --I,-- stupid"

ImnotMamaGbutsheLovesMe Tue 26-Aug-08 18:43:31

My issue is not about asking adopters of their panel experience. It just feels like the OP wants to second guess decisions rather than go on each individual case. Of course I could be wrong in that that isn't the plan/case.

Kewcumber Tue 26-Aug-08 19:36:12

but how is the OP going to make any decisions about individual cases yet - she doesn't know any. She's not on a panel yet and is trying to make the decision whether to join one or not. I couldn't see any reference at all to indiviual cases, not even the inference you see.

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