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Have they overdone it with the drive for new adopters?

24 replies

CloserThanYesterday · 07/08/2014 09:18

I'm sure this has been talked about plenty, so apologies if everyone is sick of it!

I couldn't find any other threads on here, but on a couple of other forums there are lots of approved, but matchless adopters seemingly having very little interest shown in them - for example, seeing very few profiles or constantly being passed over in favour of other adopters. It doesn't seem to be only people looking for young babies either, but sibling groups of 2 and younger school age too.

It also seems that potential links are falling through as courts decide against adoption at the last minute, and our LA have confirmed that prospective adopters are now being warned that courts are having to be seen to be beyond reproach when it comes to dealing with birth families, and this is leading them to give more chances, or spend more time assessing carers within the family. I don't mean to suggest this is necessarily a bad thing - as long as it really is right for the children, and not just a reaction to all the recent negative media.

Just wondered if anyone else was getting the general feeling that there are now an increasing number of adopters waiting, and a decreasing number of children needing them, what with one thing or another?

We've certainly not been inundated since approval a month ago, despite being assured we had very realistic ideas.

The real need is for the older children/bigger sibling groups/children with severe needs ... yes, I know we all knew that already, but for many of those children, maybe adoption isn't the best or most realistic option.

So many adopters feel bad (and are made to feel bad, sometimes) for not feeling able to parent these children, but in truth a great many have arrived at adoption through infertility, and want as many of those young years as possible, or don't physically or financially have room for three at once, etc etc etc ... and the campaigns for new adopters really aren't clear that this is the real need.

Anyway, I've gone off on a tangent ...

I guess what I'm wondering is, does anyone feel that, having had a big swing towards adoption following some high profile abuse cases a few years back, the tide is now turning away from it?

Just feels that new adopters are being approved thick and fast, and then feeling like a spare part ...

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CloserThanYesterday · 07/08/2014 09:19

Blimey, that was long ... sorry!

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silverlinings79 · 07/08/2014 10:20

I don't know if you belong to the adoption-link website (a good way to find potential matches btw) but they recently sent out an email that started with this...

There is an unusual situation in many parts of the UK at the moment, with more approved adopters than are needed for the number of children waiting. This is partly because Local Authorities are finding it harder to get placement orders for children, due to a court ruling last year that has resulted in quite a lot of uncertainly and frustration within adoption.

I think there is a change yes, the speeding up of approvals, the tv programmes/recent press and probably the above (though if the above is true about legislation and it is better for the kids then I'm all for it ofcourse!!!) I recently had a friend naively say to me that surely we should just get what we are given! But Joe public do not have the courses to show how important a good match is for attachment and therefore the happiness of any adoptees and so if you long for a little one you need to be 'selfish' in that respect because if you then parent an older child, the match may very well fall apart which will massively harm that child, so in the end you not being selfish through honesty is a good thing.

It obviously costs to train all potential adopters and at the minute a good base of adopters to chose from is good for local authorities but I do wonder if at some point they will get to a stage where some local authorities will only do the training if you want older children or sibling groups....hmmm....

btw we have now been matched and it took around 6 weeks post our panel so have hope! :)

silverlinings79 · 07/08/2014 10:21

*being selfish through honesty. And when I say selfish, other people's ideas of selfish!

Italiangreyhound · 07/08/2014 10:37

I don't know about all the points but I would say, being matched in 6 weeks is mega fast. It took us 8 months from approval to bring our little one home and we were told that normally it takes about 9-12 months to get approved and 9-12 months to be matched. Approval is now faster (ours was almost exactly 12 months to approval - but my friend who started about 6 months after me was approved about a month after me, so it is much quicker now).

No one should feel guilty for the children they cannot parent. We are not providing a service for social services we are creating/adding to a family, but we must also be realistic about the kind of children who need families.

I attended a National Adoption UK event where the details of literally hundreds of children were either on display at tables or in a booklet handed to each adepter as they entered. I am not suer how many people were there but I would be surprised if the number of adopters out numbered the number of children, as some tables from adoption charities also carried details of adopters.

At these events there were older children and younger children. There are even babies but probably not any children with no 'issues'.

We attended an event like this this year in London and it was very well organised and good. I would recommend them.

Italiangreyhound · 07/08/2014 10:49

adopter not adepter!

  • re "...but we must also be realistic about the kind of children who need families." I think most adopters are by the time they get all the way to the CPR reading stage BUT I must admit for me right up to the stage of reading the CPRs I did not realise that every child we would be told about had some combination of either mental health issues in the family (not necessarily the child, just there in the family) or learning difficulties or drugs or alcohol (or both) or other medical issues in the family (such as ill health during pregnancy for birth mum). This does not mean these children will suffer from mental health issues, learning difficulties etc but it does means 'risk' or 'uncertainty' of these things. I must admit I did read the initial profiles and if they did not mention any of these things I felt they were not present but when I read the CPS there was always some risk factor.

Maybe we just saw those issues and there are other kids with none but I do think it is rare.

In a couple of cases we saw it looked as if a baby or toddler was 'given up' because the birth mum gave them up or abandoned them but it is not the same as a healthy (no offence here to anyone, please) school girl/young woman having a baby and not being able to 'keep' their baby. There might still mental health issues etc in the family. may be a few of those children did have no issues at all but we did not get the CPR stage and those children were probably very much in demand.

One thing for me was I was very set on a girl. I decided after watching Finding Mum and Dad to be more open. I was lucky that after that our social worker did suggest a boy and we did adopt him. Hooray. It was totally right for us. He was just the right one. It was not that he was a boy, it was just he was right.

Wishing the best of luck to all on the matching bench!
silverlinings79 · 07/08/2014 11:09

In relation to 6 weeks being quick (actually it's 8, I can't count), it will be 3 months in total to matching panel but I know, in comparison to the past that's very very very quick! On courses though they are showing you profiles from the first enquiry evening and talking about concurrent matching with approval etc. We were told to plan to have children living with us by now from day one! So I can see why if you then have to wait 6 months for a match post panel you may be thinking it is a long time.

I too Italian did not realise all of that until reading CPR's either and also had that programme open our eyes! - we are soon (fingers crossed for that matching panel) to be adopting siblings. And I'm so happy you found the perfect match! Smile

Devora · 07/08/2014 12:20

I know an adoption social worker who told me the new targets have been a nightmare, that they've turned on this tap of approved adopters and put huge pressure on sws to rush through matching to a degree that is absolutely not in the best interests of the child.

Kewcumber · 07/08/2014 12:50

And I do also think that adopters have not been adequately prepared for how long the wait for a match can be.

Yes it is quicker than it used to be (quite rightly - I was 3 years from application to coming home with DS) but IMVHO the "speed" should only apply to the need for a certain future to be decided for a child as is appropriate eg may need longer if there are potential kinship adopters to be assessed.

I don't see any particular issue with adults waiting 6-9 months (say) for a match after approval. After all its only equivalent to the wait once you are pregnant and personally I found the time after approval (although unsettling) not unhelpful in the long run with time to sort house and mind!

Kewcumber · 07/08/2014 12:53

I can remember doing a one day pre-prep course when we played the Intercountry adoption game - there were three tracks you had to race around a bit like snakes and ladders with differnt things (al true life) happening to slow you down, some dramatically some minorly.

The three tracks were labelled "Slow" "Very SLow" "Really really fucking tediously slow"

They made a point of preparing for the wait and helped you think through what you were going to do with the time.

I learnt Russian!

The emphasis seems to be all about speed these days but I could be being a grumpy old bag.

CloserThanYesterday · 07/08/2014 14:32

Thanks for the responses everyone, great to get everyone's point of view.

Devora that's exactly the impression I am getting from our LA - everyone is approved speedily and then there is pressure to get them all matched. Which also means there is an awful lot of competition going on, which feels wrong somehow.

I didn't mean to sound as though I was moaning about the speed of matching (although yesterday would be fine for me!!) - I totally understand that it takes as long as it takes to make sure it's right for everyone.

It's more that I'm wondering whether anyone else thought there was a growing feeling of 'too many adopters, less children' especially after all the programmes and publicity.

That's interesting about adoption link silver - just had a quick look and they have over 1000 adopters and about 400 children. Early days for the site though I guess.

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CloserThanYesterday · 07/08/2014 14:34

Everyones, not everyone's - stupid auto correct!

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Kewcumber · 07/08/2014 14:52

I wasn;t meaning to imply you were moaning about the speed (although tbh anything more than a day is torture so its fair game to moan even if you know you are being unreasonable!)

More that people previously were much better prepared for a wait and we seem to have swung too far the other way and people are surprised by it.

Italiangreyhound · 07/08/2014 17:35

Speed, or lack of it, should always, like all things in adoption, be in the interest of the child. Our son had a delay in the adoption process which may well have had a negative affect on him, it's not really about us. but I know waiting is hard! i think I agree with others that expectations have been raised too high that your child will be home soon. It may take a while.

Good luck to those awaiting a match.

blossom101001 · 07/08/2014 17:55

I am the other way. We were linked within 3 weeks of approval, matched in 8 and they will move in, within 14 weeks of approval.

We were expecting a long wait but it didn't happen.

Choccyjules · 07/08/2014 18:11

Our LA currently has more approved adopters than children waiting.

This is made worse because as someone up thread noted, they are having to revisit all decisions to make sure courts won't say no at the eleventh hour. So the children are stuck in a bottleneck, being reviewed.

Thefishewife · 07/08/2014 19:25

Sorry but I really feel a lot of adopters just waiting for their sw to come up with a magical match when really they should be much more pro active

CloserThanYesterday · 08/08/2014 07:00

Fishewife I agree that it's a good idea to get out there and search for yourselves - I think a lot of adopters are asked to give it a few months before doing that though. We have.

Choccy thanks for that, I'm not dreaming the situation up out of my own desire to be matched yesterday then! I just hope it's all being done for the right reasons, and not just to satisfy the daily mail and co. The tide seems to go whichever way the media winds take it which doesn't fill me with confidence.

Kew now that I think of it, it was implied a few times during the process that matching could be quick. It is also such a quick approval process now, which doesn't help with expectations. Although, to be fair, I think it has only just started happening that court processes are taking longer, so hopefully new prospective adopters are being better prepared.

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CloserThanYesterday · 08/08/2014 07:09

Italian yes definitely - speed should never be at the expense of the child's best interest. As long as any delays really do have the child's interests at heart!

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Choccyjules · 08/08/2014 16:42

Not waiting for a magical match here. Subscribed to websites, been to two Activity Days (one was three hours away). Thought of nothing else for about five months now.

64x32x24 · 08/08/2014 22:19

I don't know. There seem to me to be three aspects to this: The first being the time that prospective adopters wait until matching; the second being that it apparently has become harder to obtain placement orders; and the third being the point of there being more approved prospective adopters than children waiting for adoption.

First, though matching seems to take longer than some prospective adopters seem to expect, it still seems to be, usually, shorter than it used to be. Purely from anecdotal evidence from reading forums such as this one, and books on real life experiences of adoption, it seems that much longer timeframes used to be the norm than are now.
To address this, I think one would need to work on prospective adopters' expectations, primarily - it needs to be clear that whilst matching may be very quick, it may equally take quite a while. Further, in the matching period, I should think there are a few things that may improve the experience for prospective adopters, such as transparency/being kept in the loop.
In order to actually (further) reduce time to matching (for adopters), I think centralisation would be the key. Initiatives like adoption-link, or that the national adoption register will become 'searchable' by approved prospective adopters (from September), are moves in that direction. Because delays in matching that are caused purely by a mismatch of location (the 'perfect' match for a child happens to live/have been approved outside of the child's LA) are quite pointless and harmful to all sides IMO.

However, never should the decision about a child's future be influenced by prospective adopters' needs/desires to not have to wait long for a match.

The second part of all this seems to me to be the point about delays in getting placement orders due to changing jurisdiction. I don't have any way of knowing this but I trust that the courts do genuinely try to come to decisions that are in the best interest of the child(ren). If the courts' judgement as to what is in the best interest of the child has changed, I trust that this is not for political or economical reasons but purely because insights have been gained/are now being applied, which are thought to be in the interest of the child.
So if a court denies a LA's application for a placement order, in the first instance, I trust that this is genuinely believed to be best for the child - even if they go on to grant it later, thus having caused a 'needless' delay for the child. The court has weighed the possible detriment caused by the delay by the detriments of possibly reaching the wrong decision and has decided in the interest of the child.
If there is a problem here, IMO it lies at the point where applications for placement orders get denied because the LA wasn't properly aware of the changed jurisdiction and only for that reason didn't provide some now newly required evidence. This is the point where these delays become properly needless - they are caused, ultimately, by communication problems between the legal system and social services; and can not be seen as in the interest of the child in any way. Applications for placement orders shouldn't be being rejected en masse; rather, the standard for those applications should very quickly be adapting to the new legal requirements.

The third part, well I for one would be glad if there were truly more prospective adopters than children waiting to be adopted. I am not sure if that is the case - does anyone have any statistics apart from the e-mail by adoption-link mentioned earlier? My impression was that there is in effect a huge 'back-log' of children waiting for adoption, with new children joining them daily; so that even if more prospective adopters are being recruited, than new children being given placement orders, it will take quite a while for that 'back-log' to be cleared.
In an 'ideal' world, once there is a placement order, a child should not have to 'wait' for more than a week to be matched, IMO. Most certainly should they not have to wait months or even years. For this to be possible, there would have to always be quite a few more prospective adopters 'waiting' than children - children shouldn't be waiting at all!
The problem here is that it is not purely a numbers game. There is the issue of geographical mismatch as well as the mismatch of which children need adoption as opposed to what kinds of children people want to adopt. Combine those two mismatches, and you get children AND prospective adopters waiting everywhere.
Now I'd say whatever you do, you will always have 'easier to place' and 'harder to place' children; and if you want to recruit enough prospective adopters for all the 'harder to place' children, you will probably have plenty more than enough for the 'easer to place' children. So in order for all children being able to be matched quickly after placement order, you'd need to
-recruit lots and lots of prospective adopters, so that you get enough for the 'harder to place' children
-accept that many prospective adopters will have to wait for a match;

unless you find a way to recruit exactly the right kind of prospective adopters, on a national scale, for the children needing adoption, again on a national scale.

And here is a little conundrum - if you want to recruit masses of prospective adopters (in order to prevent delays in matching for children), you need to make adoption 'attractive' - and the prospect of having to wait around for an indeterminate, possibly very long time, possibly being in competition for a child but rejected in favour of someone else, possibly several times, etc. - is certainly not very enticing!
The solution to this conundrum would be to find a way to recruit, specifically, prospective adopters for 'harder to place' children - and that never will be easy.

(by the way, before anyone gets offended - I do not think that anyone who is currently waiting for a match is waiting because they only want to consider 'easy to place' children. No, I believe the main culprit is the decentralised mess there is - meaning that many potential matches aren't made, for no good reason at all; with both the child(ren) and prospective adopters waiting. When all it needs is someone to connect them.)

In sum, no I don't think they have overdone it with the drive for new adopters; however, in addition/ or if necessary instead of that, it would have been more efficient to focus on recruiting adopters specifically for harder to place children, rather than just generally recruiting prospective adopters. And it would be even more efficient, in the first instance, to improve matching by ensuring that matches aren't missed/delayed just because the prospective adopters live elsewhere than the child(ren).

And, finally, sorry for epic post!

dimples76 · 09/08/2014 08:47

Wow that was a long post 64x36x24!

I think what you've written makes a lot of sense especially about centralisation. My sw says the main challenge for finding a match for me is geography because I live in the County town which is in the middle of the county which rules out a lot of children but she does not want me to look further afield yet (it's only been a month since approval panel). As the system currently is I would prefer to stay within my LA due to post adoption support and because I have been impressed by them so far but it doesn't feel right that there could be a child/children within my region waiting for a match that I would love to parent.

Hels20 · 09/08/2014 09:25

A long post, 64 but very well said.

We adopted through a VA - a child that was becoming seen as hard to place - but who lived v close to us.

We had to wait a reasonable time - 6 months after approval we were shown details of our now, DS. He came home 4 months later. But in the 6 month wait - we had to adjust our expectations...I had really wanted siblings - in the end, we adopted a single boy.

CloserThanYesterday · 09/08/2014 10:30

Wowsers 64 - epic indeed! Loads of good points - I agree that the ideal thing is to somehow recruit adopters specifically for the children who are harder to place. I can't think how though! There is a thought that adoption might not be best (or realistic) for some children, and there should be greater value placed on permanent fostering rather than it being seen as a bad thing if all else fails. How many times do you hear comments along the line of 'left to languish in care' ? I suppose it all costs money though to make it work.

I can't get my head around the idea that approving huge numbers of adopters who aren't needed is a good thing though. As we all know, there are many and varied issues which bring people to adoption, it's a hard road for many just to get approved - and then to expect them to just wait indefinitely, (perhaps never to have their child if better suited adopters keep being approved after them) seems wrong. Yes the children are the most important, of course, but while it's being ensured that everything is right for them and the birth families, it should be remembered that adopters have lives and feelings too! As many have said, there needs to be proper preparation that the wait could be long, and fraught with competition and decision changes, and then adopters can make the decision as to whether they can or want to handle that. At the moment, recruitment doesn't paint that picture at all, but I think it's very recent changes in procedure and law that have affected the situation.

Totally agree that centralising is an issue. The LAs hang on to 'their' adopters for as long as possible to try and get an in house match which makes their numbers look good - crazy if there are perfect matches out there!

Personally - we've been impressed with our LA, we feel in safe hands with our SW and are confident we'll get there in the end!

It's more a general feeling of change I'm commenting on, that the adoption route is starting to be avoided or delayed in more and more cases.

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Maiyakat · 09/08/2014 12:54

Agree with the centralisation thing. DD's placement order was granted the same week that I was approved. However, we weren't linked for another 4 months, because she was in a neighbouring LA and I couldn't look outside my LA for 3 months (and her LA were looking for a placement with 'their' adopters). Thankfully we found each other very quickly after that, but it makes me sad that we could have been together 3 months earlier if the system was different.

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