A child leaving the family home to go back into care is one of the most heartbreaking decisions a parent will ever have to make in their life. For this drastic decision to be made means that life has become completely intolerable and unsafe. Our accessing and recieving support survey identified how often this decision is made to protect other children in the home.
So why do children’s services start to come in with a sledghammer at such a fraught and distressing time & start threatening to remove other children from the family home too?
We know as parents that adoption can be incredibly hard on adoptees. It doesn’t work for every child, For those it doesn’t work for there needs to be space and understanding – not judging adoptive parents for ‘not bonding’ with the child and putting other children in the family, including birth children, under child protection investigations because the mother may not have bonded with their birth children too. This is a complete misunderstanding of the attachment process and adoptee/adopter relationship, which will be very different to a birth child relationship when an adopted child has experienced trauma and neglect.
An Adoption Order is permanent in the UK and cannot be revoked. Their is no legal mechanism for it’s revocation once made, unless the child is freed for adoption again – which very rarely happens. Whether social services like it or not the adopted child is bound for life to their adoptive family with a changed birth certificate in the UK. Whether children’s services like it or not, a child’s adoptive parents will be the grandparents of their adopted child’s children – and we are seeing cases where after going back into care because it wasn’t safe, or even being removed, the adoptee, once a little older, reurns to the adopter and asks for help parenting their babies and children, who they cannot cope with, but do not want to lose. Where else will they go if the parents who they were removed from are not safe? Children and young adults are not meant to be alone in the world with no family behind them, cut off from their communities in which they were raised. We are seeing the tragic consequences of removing children miles away from home and community in a recent final report from an All Party Parliamentary Group supported by the Children’s Society.
A family always revolves around its neediest menber. This is a very important issue in adoption and special guardianship where children coming into the family from abuse and neglect will have a high level of need. It is about time that adoption modernisers, parliamentarians and social care policy developers grasped the fact that adoption is actually permanent – and special guardianship and adoption are not just a way to offload children who would otherwise be expensive to care for.
Just because a family member, an extremely vulnerable child, lives apart from us, doesn’t mean they no longer require our parental love and protection – or the support and connection with others in the family – brothers and sisters with whom they grew up. All involved will need support to heal if they were left in crisis for two long – as we know many families are under austerity.
Consideration also needs to be given to the fact that the Special Guardian Order is not permanent – it can be annulled and it ends when a child is 18.