Mothers Day – not always an easy day for mother’s and children in adoption and special guardianship.
In Chinese medicine there is something called the Law of Mother Child. This is a natural law – a phenomenon that occurs in nature – because it is how it is. It cannot be changed. It says when a child is screaming support the mother. It does not say remove the child and focus only on the child. This approach will perhaps, ultimately never work. But it may, because of the ‘sunken cost fallacy’, be hard to change it. Unfortunately, it is too often leaving our children cast adrift in the care system with no one to turn to with any loving connection with them. Compelling research from the US, commissioned by Alia Innovations, on the unseen cost of Foster Care has made the case brilliantly for the astronomical costs and a system that does more harm than good.
Sometimes it is necessary to remove children. Adoption works because children can adapt to being raised by others because they would not otherwise survive. It takes 20 years to raise a human. It is also natural and perfectly normal for there to be a human desire to nurture and protect children. Again this is nature – it isn’t necessarily altruism – its just part of being human. But it isn’t always easy for the children or the new families – not when a child’s nervous system is affected by trauma.
What we found in our Connections Survey is that support for birth parents who have had children removed is totally inadequate – leaving people in a desperate state. Whilst on the side of adoption and special guardianship, all too often too much is asked and expected of us as parents and carers of traumatised children. Once we have jumped through all the hoops too little is given in return. The children go back into care as we can’t cope when there is insufficient support and poor understanding of our needs. If they become RE-LAC (Re entering care), in a child focused system we are no longer in a position where we are able to protect them. We also have no say when they are over 18 and it is very difficult indeed to be a parent when they live apart from us.
Despite so many caring people working so hard to make a difference, we are finding the system to be too divided to make progress that is so much needed, with a lack of shared understanding. Narratives of birth families tend to be negative. Adopters, in contrast, are sought after by the state and seen as privileged – as we have access to additional support through the Adoption Support Fund (some Special Guardians can access this fund too)- but the reality is this fund can be hard to access and it is capped at £5k per annum, which may not be sufficient in some cases (most residential care homes cost £5k per week). Adopters can fall from grace very quickly if the children they parent pose challenges that the system struggles with, and we end up in a very difficult place when our children are excluded from schools because they don’t feel safe there, or they won’t engage with therapists or support services.
So on Mothers Day lets hold each other in mind and recognise the child’s need for a mother in the widest sense. A mother is a person who loves come what may. Who protects and fights for the child. Who loves her child and holds a child in her heart for a lifetime.