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We bring you news and updates about our campaigning, and about adoption issues that will impact on all our families and children here.

FEBRUARY 2018

More than 400 respondents participated in our survey on Stress, Health and Well-being of Adopters and Special Guardians. We have formed a research team to analyse the data and are aiming to produce an interim report at the end of February 2018.

We formed as a voluntary organisation and our constitution was agreed in an inaugural meeting held on 3rd February.

JANUARY 2018

Our survey was launched on January 1st – closing date 31st January. We wrote to potential research collaborators and we received interest from the a number of research teams and universities, for which we were very grateful. We hope to draw on their expertise and knowledge after our interim report to assist with the next stage of the analysis; to support with the dissemination of the findings, and ultimately to work with us to influence policy and practice in the direction of the changes required to improve the mental health and well-being of adopters and special guardians.

We sent an open letter to the new Minister for Children and Families in response to a letter sent to MP Judith Cummins by Robert Goodwill concerning two of our members. We are aware that the Rt Hon Robert Goodwill has left the post in the January cabinet reshuffle. There is no response to our letter.

DECEMBER 2017

We worked on a survey about Stress, Health and Well-being, piloting it on group members, ready for January launch.

We formed a steering committee to guide us through the process of becoming a voluntary organisation.

NOVEMBER 2017

6th November – Adopters Together appeared on the Victoria Derbyshire programme where the role of the Adopter Guardian was introduced as a recommendation in the light of the SCIE recommendations for improving the mental health of children in care. For the cost of just two children re entering care for one year (approximately £500k), the UK would have a fully trained national service of Adoption Guardians. The costs for set up would be offset by cost savings. The issues of parental blame and the fact that ‘intervention’ is not holistically focused on the family, but centred on the child in isolation, were raised as key problems that could potentially be prevented by the Adopter Guardian.

To watch the interview with Children’s Commissioner – Anne Longfield, Dr John Simmons from Coram BAAF, and Dr Sylvia Schroer – co founder of Adopters Together please click here 

OCTOBER 2017

22nd October. We decided, as a group, to include and work with special guardians in Adopters Together 

This decision was taken because we had interest from special guardians in joining with us to campaign for change, and it was felt they face many similar issues.

October 4th 2017: One to one consultation with SCIE for mental health well-being of children in care and adopted children project. 

We were delighted to participate in this project although our consultation had no impact on the final report, which had already been written by this time. Read the summary of our consultation here.

SEPTEMBER 2017

File on 4 Programme on Adoption and other BBC coverage of adoption issues on 26.9.16 

We were unable to contribute to this programme despite our best efforts.

Adopters Together – Hoping to work with Adoption UK, Adopters Voice

We have asked Sue Armstrong Brown, the CEO of Adoption UK, whether Adopters Together might feed into the Adopter’s Voice forums, so that a wider range of adoption experiences might be considered by policy makers and Regionalisation Boards – in order to develop better services.

Adopters Together – Contributing to SCIE project on mental health of children in care.

We were delighted, having raised some serious concerns about the well being of adopted children and young people who have re-entered care after parental help seeking, to have been offered a one to one consultation for this important project, before it concludes. An Adopters Together team will be meeting with the SCIE on 4th October 2017 where we will also meet with the co-production lead.

MP Meetings – Update

Adopters Together met with two MPs: Judith Cummins and Rachael Maskell. Both were supportive of our campaigns, and seemed very concerned. Rachael Maskell informed us that many adopters had contacted her since she had been an MP to talk about problems. Both MPs were asked to consider amendments to the Children’s Act so that adopters are not blamed for their children’s behaviour and trauma related problems.

Forthcoming BBC File on 4 programme about adoption

This was the BBC’s response to our concerns about the term ‘disruption’, which followed a request to refrain from using it:

“You raise the issue of the term ‘disruption’ in particular. Definitions of the term do vary. The broad definition used in the DfE Report ‘Beyond the Adoption Order’, where the term is used to describe the situation of ‘legally adopted children who left their families under the age of 18 years old’ is helpful and widely accepted. Most, but not all, children in their dataset became looked after. As the report explains, disruption can refer to a wide range of arrangements for adopted children ‘they may have become looked after, be living independently, or living with extended family or friends’. This will of course be made clear in the programme and contributions from individual families will illustrate the range of family relationships experienced post disruption as well”

The BBC informed Adopters Together that they have received correspondence from adopters who wanted to draw attention to the unfair removal of adopted children but said they would not cover this subject in the programme. We were informed it might be the subject of a later programme.

Adopters Together has received a positive and most heartening response from Professor Peter Fonagy, co chair of SCIE project on mental health of children in care, including adopted children.

Adopters Together wrote to Professor Fonagy to raise concerns that the voices of parents had seemingly been inadvertently excluded from the ‘experts by experience’ co-production process of the forthcoming SCIE project:

“We have searched the minutes and can find little reference to any involvement of adoptive parents in this project, when the project was supposed to include our children and be about them….. We can find reference to a group of 20 foster carers being consulted in the minutes of 24/5 but nothing about adopters, or birth parents, whose children with disabilities may enter care after help seeking. We parents can find that there is no accountability for our children in the care system, and no one commissions services for them (see Dame Christine Lenehan’s presentation on 26.1.17). We can feel powerless to help them.
We do feel concerned that our views and those of our children may have inadvertently been excluded from this project. We draw your attention to the minutes of 20.5.17, where Stephen Goulder suggests that adoptive parents and foster carers should have the same status as professionals. We can find only one adopter on the expert working group and we can find no birth parents of children with disabilities at all”

“I will take the issue forward….. I will certainly share it with Dame Lenehan – with whom I co-Chair the Expert Working Group. She, more than anyone, has children with disabilities at the centre of her concerns. I simply cannot imagine that with her in charge, there could be any way that this population of CYP will be overlooked.

However, the issue of adopters you raise is a substantial one which there is no solution to at the moment. The Adoption Support Fund, itself is a point of controversy currently (as you probably know). The voice of the adoptive parents and their relative marginalization should be a great concern to all of us because without the massive commitment and service adoptive parents bring to the community, the care system would not be able to function the way it does.

Your points are very well taken and thank you for making them”

We hope there is an opportunity for parents of disabled children and adopters to feed into the project before it comes to an end and greatly value the transparency with which this project has been conducted.

Adoption Support Fund Concerns

The new Minister for Children and Families, Robert Goodwill MP, has recently given an interview to Adoption UK where he talks about what he hopes to achieve in office. We hope that legislation and policies can be prioritised and implemented, that better serve those they are intended to help. We are finding that our children can re-enter care after we sought help for them and leave care without ever having received it – and with us being marginalised or depicted as ‘unfit’ parents by Local Authorities, in worst case scenarios.

The capping of the Adoption Support Fund and lack of match funding are also an important issues.

AUGUST 2017

BBC File on 4 programme – Terminology and language issues

Shortly after Adopter’s Together was formed, we were informed the BBC were making a programme about adoption. We raised concerns with program makers about the use of loaded terminology in regards to adoptive families who cannot live safely with their children during the teenage years – the use of terms such as ‘disruption’, and ‘breakdown’ or ‘failure’ are insensitive to our situation, and confer a degree of finality that mean no effort is made to support the family as a whole when there is a difficult care separation. Living apart is a difficult situation for any family – for all those involved and it is saddening and concerning that care separations under Section 20, and harrowing care proceedings, are increasingly becoming a feature of modern adoptions.

Adopters Together feel that the use of the same term ‘disruption’, both before and after the Adoption Order is made, potentially creates confusion; it does not recognise the differences in the child’s legal status; it can obscure the fact that the adopter remains the legal parent when a child re-enters care post the Adoption Order, and it confers a sense of finality that may not be helpful in what can be a very challenging ‘parenting from a distance’ role.