Author Topic: Adoption a 'runaway train often breaching rights of birth parents'  (Read 52 times)

Tinkerbelle

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https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/18/adoption-has-become-runaway-train-social-workers-cannot-stop

Adoption a 'runaway train often breaching rights of birth parents'

British Association of Social Workers’ inquiry calls for ‘significant rethink’ of adoption law

Adoption has become a “runaway train” impossible for individual social workers to stop, according to an independent inquiry into adoption law in the UK.

The exhaustive two-year inquiry, which canvassed evidence from social workers, adult adoptees, adoptive parents and birth parents across the UK, has raised the alarm over practices that favour adoption over alternative care options seeking to help children stay with their birth parents.

The British Association of Social Workers’s (BASW) independent adoption inquiry is the first to investigate the role of social workers in adoption with a focus on ethics and human rights and has called for a significant rethink and review of adoption law.  The UK has the highest number of adoptions in Europe and is one of just three EU countries that allow forced or non-consensual adoptions where children are adopted against the wishes of their birth parents. The inquiry examined these issues and looked at our rationale for being the only country in Europe to have a uniform rule forbidding any direct contact between adopted children and their birth and foster families.  Ruth Allen, chief executive for BASW, said: “Adoption can be highly successful, providing children with stable, loving homes and adoptive parents with the experience of creating the family they want. Birth families may consent to adoption and recognise the value to their biological child.  “However, the inquiry explores the complex realities of adoption for many people, particularly in non-consensual adoption, with mixed outcomes and experiences for all involved, which raise questions about what the report calls a dominant ‘happy ever after’ narrative.”

At the inquiry’s launch on Thursday night, a mother who had her children taken from her at birth said there were no support services, preventive help or children’s centres available to help her cope, and that most were being closed because of funding cuts.  Social workers said the adoption process was not working and that there was not enough post-adoptive support for birth or adoptive families.  There was also call for government to not only fund the system properly but to be more open over its data. “The government needs to supply a breakdown of figures so we can see how many children who are adopted then go back into the care system because of a breakdown with the adoptive family often through lack of post adoption support which is morally wrong but also doesn’t make sense financially,” said Allen.

Adoption has been promoted by government policy in England in recent years as the best solution for children from vulnerable families. The former prime minister David Cameron and the current environment secretary, Michael Gove, have both publicly supported adoption as a public good and the best decision for children.  But the inquiry painted a far less rosy picture. “Often at the early help-points, a case is seen as an ‘adoption’ case because adoption is so high profile,” one senior social worker said. “[A permanent solution for the child] has been hijacked to [mean] adoption the child’s ‘right’ to adoption. Adoption becomes a ‘runaway train’ and impossible for individual social workers to stop.  “Court processes can feel like a ‘fait accompli’ for birth families.”

The inquiry also came to the damning conclusion that “social work’s professional ethics are not routinely and transparently used to inform adoption practice”.

One acute ethical concern repeatedly expressed by experts was that the impact of austerity on wider social policies has directly led to increased rates of adoption among already disadvantaged families.  “The enquiry explored how a rights and ethics perspective is not routinely embedded in social work practice or in statutory guidance,” said Allen. “For example, adoption should never be an intervention primarily for family poverty or because parents have care and support needs that are not being adequately met.  And yet cuts to family support and social work services were a recurring theme with less available for earlier interventions that could support children to stay at home safely.  This means the rights of children and their parents are being breached thanks to austerity measures in public services which continue to undermine preventive and supportive services for families.”

Allen also questioned the grounds for government’s promotion of adoption above other care options. “There is a dearth of information and meaningful longitudinal research to inform policy and social work practice on adoption,” she said. “Without this information, the arguments made for adoption in its current form and current policy are insufficiently evidenced.”