“I hate telling people we don’t have a child for them,” says an anonymous “social worker” who’s just so brought down when s/he is not immediately able to pony up the goods to the many, many couples who apparently make New Year’s resolutions to order up a kid. No, really:
I love my job, but returning after the Christmas break I find a mountain of inquires that have built up, each someone wanting to know how they can adopt. They are full of hope and motivated by a new year and a fresh start.
As wonderful as it is to know so many want to open their lives to an adopted child,
Oh, here we go again. If you have your own child, your life doesn’t have to be opened, your heart doesn’t have to be opened, and your home doesn’t have to be opened: they just ARE open. If you want us to think adoption is wonderful, stop implying adoptees are inferior.
my heart sinks. I know I, or a colleague, will have to contact them and the likelihood is we will dash their hopes.
Because that’s what adoption is about: meeting the desires of people who decide every year that this January is the month they will order up and be supplied with a child. Isn’t it odd that a social worker would fail to mention that these children are not in fact manufactured to order, but were given birth to by real live women, and are only available because something terrible has happened? I mean, don’t social workers have anything to do with securing those children for adoption in the first place? Aren’t social workers the people facing relinquishing a child are referred to? To this “social worker,” those original families just…don’t exist. You will not read of them once in this article about how tragic it is that everyone who requests one can’t have someone else’s child. Nor will you read of the effects adoption might have on children.
We have lots of adopters approved already, and for many this will be the second or even third new year since they made a tentative inquiry and started the adoption process. Back then, we were welcoming all potential adopters with open arms, explaining how the number of children waiting was growing month by month.
Ah, the good old days when kiddy vending machines operated above capacity! You’re talking about the 1950s, right? No? There were oodles of snuggly wuggly adoptable children available to anyone who wanted one three years ago? That’s not the story anyone in adoption has been telling for decades now. For decades now everyone’s been moaning about a “shortage.” While an article this author links to says adoptions have fallen 50% in the last two years, I find it hard to believe there was a booming child surplus before that. And if there was, well, that was a failure of the social system, wasn’t it? Adoption almost always represents a failure of the social system.
How I wish we had known the change that was about to take place; how we wish we could have prepared these people better for the frustration and heartache to come.
You could have. You could have said “There are no guarantees. This is how things are now, but the institution of adoption is subject to change. It has changed before, and it will change again. At present, the average couple waits from between X and X [months, years, whatever].” But you didn’t. You gave them all a cutesy reply instead:
We were always honest, we explained there is no timescale to be matched with a child and when asked “how long will it take?” would reply “how long is a piece of string?”.
So you’re sorry you weren’t preparing them, but you say you were preparing them?
But we certainly hadn’t anticipated that small ball of string would become a huge knotted boulder.
In November 2013, judge Sir James Munby said in a case ruling that councils must consider alternatives to adoption, such as extended family members. This meant adoption placement orders decreased, while special guardianship orders rose significantly. It feels as though adoption has been in freefall ever since.
Oh my god, what a tragedy. I mean, the horrible, unjust burden of considering keeping a child in his or her own family whenever possible–such a thing is unthinkable. You are not a social worker, Sir or Madam; you are a procurer of flesh. How dare you. (When I first read this noisome claptrap, this is the point at which I actually began to cry. My go-to emotion, anger, dodged right out of the way and made room for sadness. This isn’t normal for me, but it happens, and it’s part of why I don’t blog more often.)
Recently, the government announced proposed changes to the law that would mean adoption is always pursued when it’s in a child’s best interests.
And we all know what that means. It means that if someone wants to adopt, they are immediately in the child’s best interests and the child’s own family are immediately not. If I didn’t know that before, I would know it after reading the article linked to at “proposed changes,” because it bemoans the decline in adoption numbers and proclaims that the new law is intended “to increase the number of children adopted.” Adoption should never be about quotas.
In 2012 when I moved from safeguarding work to adoption, the approved adopters on my caseload were generally matched with a child within two months. Now, anything less than a 12-month wait is said to be speedy.
A year. An entire year! Some people wait three months longer than it would take to make their own baby to adopt! Can you imagine?! Horrific! Outrageous! Why, my own APs, in the mid-sixties, waited a mere eighteen months to adopt me oh wait.
It’s not just the length of time; it’s the emotional impact of waiting and hoping, seeing a profile of a child, imagining your life with them in it and then being told stronger links are being pursued. Or as one adopter put it, “someone else is better than me”.
Mr. or Ms. “Social Worker,” that is not a product of the last two or three years; that is how adoption works. Waiting, hoping, and fearing “someone else” might get picked instead of you have always been part of the adoption process. If this “social worker” is saying people could have a kid dumped into their laps on request two years ago, then s/he’s really arguing for the changes s/he dislikes so much.
Well, on and on it goes: those poor people, they want a kid so badly, they are so unhappy when they can’t have one. No other parties to adoption are worth considering–except, of course, the “social workers:” This makes adoption practitioners feel helpless, but all we can do is lend a listening ear when it gets too much.
So you are not a social worker at all: You are, as I said, a flesh peddler.
And PAPs have other problems, too, like not being in the best interests of the children they want at all:
To complicate the situation, the majority of adopters do not feel able to meet the complex needs of the children waiting. The vast majority of those needing adoptive placements are over the age of five, larger sibling groups, have complex needs, or are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds.
(B-bu-but their open lives!) At this point, Mr. or Mrs. Baby Broker is a hair’s breadth away from demanding that more healthy white newborns be produced for his or her clients, and that’s just evil. You’ll notice s/he didn’t waste a second considering the feelings of the kids actually needing adoption, either. Feelings are for “social workers” and PAPs.
Here is where the “social worker” links to a letter from adoptive parents who, having scored one adorable child, are very disappointed because they were assured their second adoption would take six months. Not the length of a piece of string, six months. Mr. or Ms. “Social Worker,” if people are let down because you and people like you have been misleading them, that’s your fault.
The “social worker” concludes by saying s/he is really looking for parents who are willing and able to handle the complex, too-old, wrong-colored, sibling-having children available now, but gosh, one has to be very very nice to and sensitive to the wants of those who put in orders every January because the Baby Scoop era really did just end in England or what the fuck ever.
Personally, I think this Mr. Munby sounds like a reasonable, compassionate man.
Oh hey, look how fast the comments were closed on this one.