Response to the BBC’s Article on Fostering to Adopt
CCS Adoption are delighted to see mainstream media highlighting the benefits of early permanence for babies in the care system. We have been committed to advancing early permanence placements since 2013 and working in partnership with neighbouring authorities.
We have been involved in the early placement of 12 babies 3 of whom have returned to their birth family. We therefore see it as essential that prospective adopters are fully informed about the implications of such placements and we do not feel that the article by Tammy MacAllister (16.02.16) provided a balanced view of both the challenges for prospective adopters as well as the potential benefits.
We support Jeanne Kaniuk’s statement “It’s only something that should be undertaken if you feel that the carers really understand the complexity of the role.” We feel the article did not explain the nature and complexity of the role, which is initially a fostering task until the court decides (if it indeed it does) a placement order is appropriate. Some of the quotes in the article evidence that the prospective adopters spoken to, clearly did not understand the fostering task or that the child may not remain with them in the long term as the court may decide otherwise. Early permanence adopters must be able to cope with the knowledge that the child already has legal parents (their birth parents) and that the court has not yet decided on the final outcome for the child which may not be adoption.
The article also implies that a baby placed under Fostering to Adopt arrangements will not present with additional needs as they get older. We know that the outcomes for children placed via early permanence arrangements are likely to be more positive than for those placed in the later stages of decision-making. However in many cases these babies will still have been subjected to pre-birth or early life harm, for example through substance misuse during pregnancy or the impact of domestic violence, and this will have a life-long impact on them and on their adoptive parents. It is therefore not true to suggest that adopting via Fostering to Adopt totally avoids parenting children with behavioural difficulties related to early life trauma.
Sam and Clare* were shocked by Tammy MacAllister’s “one-sided” article:
“We have two adopted daughters, who experienced trauma and moves in their early lives. When we decided to extend our family and adopt a third child a foster to adopt placement was without a doubt what we wanted to do to minimise the risk to the child of experiencing the same kind of moves and chaos that is so damaging to babies. We wanted to give our third adopted child a better start. We did this accepting that we ran the risk of not being able to keep the baby, understanding that the court process would be running concurrently and that the baby may leave us and go to birth parents or a family member. Our first FfA baby was placed with us on the day of her birth and left us after four months to live with a family member. Our second FfA baby was placed in our care at one week old and moved to the care of a family member at six weeks old. Our third FfA baby was placed with us at three days old and he left us age six months to live with a family member. Foster to adopt placements are emotionally demanding and difficult; they are win win for the child but come at a huge potential cost to the carers and this shouldn’t be taken lightly.”
Terry and Kim have a Fostering for Adoption baby placed with them. They say:
“The article makes FfA sound like a great option for people who want to have a baby but can’t. This shouldn’t be the motivation for concurrency, it kind of ‘romances’ the idea of having a baby through this route, when actually it’s all about the child and not the adults.”
*After taking time to recover and engaging in counselling Sam and Clare (not their real names) are now preparing for their fourth FfA placement.
For more information about Concurrency as a route to adoption please visit the Early Permanence Project Website.
Click here to read the full article on the BBC’s website.