Adopted in the UK

The life of a UK adoptee

Contact Responding – Post #1

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Contrary to personal expectation, I did manage to get my email off in time to send both of my responses in to the DfE’s Consultation Review on contact arrangements for children in care. Given that I’m not sure what the word count is for WordPress posts yet (and cba to gliu), I’m expecting to have to split my two responses across three posts: Post one, this one, will be my response to the parental contact response form, excluding my critique of the Family Futures (fucked-up) Top 20 Wishlist; post two will be said critique; post three will be my sibling contact response.

Admittedly, these responses do prove that my head is not writing anywhere near well enough to go back to uni., which added on to a couple of other things, has kinda made my decision about uni. for me, for now.


 
CONTACT ARRANGEMENTS FOR CHILDREN IN CARE

1. We want to ensure that all professionals involved in making contact arrangements give careful and critical consideration to the length and frequency of contact, particularly for infants. Should we strengthen regulations and guidance so that contact arrangements are purposeful and reflect the needs of the child?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for alternative proposals:

Yes, regulations and guidance need strengthening to ensure that all professionals involved in making contact arrangements give careful and critical consideration to the length and frequency of contact. However, the Government first needs to ensure that both it and all professionals involved in making contact arrangements are educated in the reality of being adopted – a reality contradictory to established conventional wisdom or common sense purported as being “for the best” by the large majority of those involved in the industry of the procurement and distribution of children.

Martin Narey’s interview transcript[ ] aptly demonstrates the tremendous disparity between the reality of being adopted, and the parody the purveyors of children expound.

First is the compounding of Mackaskill’s[ ] statistics (pg. 71), resulting in Narey fallaciously exhorting contact as being proven to be more often harmful than not. Further, Mackaskill’s research is necessarily invalidated as an explicit authority on the cessation of contact as all the subjects experienced face-to-face contact (pg. 7) – contrary to the experience of those confined within the closed adoption system. Narey’s approbation of Mackaskill’s study evinces his lack of comprehension of – or regard for – the devastating impact that the loss of genealogical reflection has upon a developing personality.

Another example is Narey’s comment of reducing “the amount of infant contact we have to more tolerable levels“, suggesting this “would be entirely in the interests of that baby“. Unfortunately, all this demonstrates yet again is Narey’s lack of knowledge of – or disregard for – long-established research demonstrating the massive importance of mothers to their young babies, especially within the weeks immediately after birth. That Narey follows this up by decrying cost as an implication, then adds “it would save local authorities a lot of money as well” only further serves to exemplify his true motives.

The radical re-assessment of the current ideological perspectives on adoption is further demonstrated as necessary by Narey’s reference to “the outstanding ‘Family Futures’ adoption agency, one of the most impressive organisations I’ve been to”. This, with his admission of surprise that a child distribution agency would want to do anything to make their business easier to sell, highlights either Narey’s naivety around the devastating, life-long impact that adoption has upon people, or his desire to further the child procurement and distribution industry. Of far greater indictment however, is nod to the “Family Futures’ Top 20 ‘Wishlist’ for Adoption in the 21st Century” – a document detailing almost everything adult adoptees are currently fighting against.

{See THIS POST for the Family fucked-up Futures critique}

2. We want to ensure that arrangements are appropriate to their age and stage of the child and specifically infants, ensuring they are not, for example, subject to long journeys. Each case will need to be decided on an individual basis, however we should like to propose that a starting point might be that children under two are rarely exposed to contact more than two or three times a week and for sessions of no more than two hours.
Should we strengthen statutory guidance to ensure more consideration is given to the purpose of contact for infants?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for alternative proposals:

This response has previously established Martin Narey’s aversion to the financial costs entailed in ensuring that children retain contact with their own families, thus this question is nonsensically phrased. Of course each case should be decided on an individual basis, which is why stipulating restrictions such as no more than six hours exposure of children younger than two to their own parents is exceedingly dangerous. Not only does it prevent the decision being made according to individual needs and experiences, but it also negates the research available showing how important physical contact with ones’ own parents is.

That local authorities currently “spend a fortune employing agency social workers to supervise contact and shuttle children across town” is not as a sign the service should be removed, but that it should be made more efficient. Again though, it is only through a radical reassessment of the true impacts of adoption and needs of the adoptee that such a change can be truly useful. Adopters should be compelled to ensure that contact takes place in safe, healthy ways such as by playing on parks and such like, rather than in contact centres and other such child unfriendly places.

3. To ensure the role of Independent Reviewing Officer in scrutinising contact arrangements, as part of the care planning process for the child, is sufficiently emphasised,
Should we look again at guidance for Independent Reviewing Officers?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for alternative proposals:

Yes. It is always good to look and see if improvements can be made in any sphere.

4. We think that the duties on local authorities to allow children in care reasonable contact with their birth parents and to promote contact for looked after children, may encourage a focus on the existence and frequency of contact arrangements, rather than on whether they safeguard and promote the best interests of the child. Removing these duties would remove the perceived presumption of contact in all cases and help local authorities to take a case-by-case decision about the best contact arrangements for the individual child.
Should we remove the duties on local authorities in primary legislation to allow children in care reasonable contact with their birth parents and to promote contact for looked after children?
Yes No
Please comment further:

No, duties placed on local authorities in primary legislation to allow children in care reasonable contact with their biological parents and to promote contact for looked after children should not be removed. Instead, as explained in answer to question 2, such contact should be strengthened in order to reflect the fact that it is essential for the wellbeing and healthy identity formation of a child to remain in contact as much as possible with their parents where it is physically safe to do so.

5. Alternatively, we could look to ensure that arrangements are made in the child’s best interests, taking account of views and wishes of all concerned, and aligned with the longer term plans for the child.
Should we replace the duties on local authorities in primary legislation to allow children in care reasonable contact with their birth parents and to promote contact for looked after children, with a new requirement that local authorities consider contact arrangements that have a clear purpose documented in the child’s care plan?
Yes No
Please comment further:

Yes, this should be done anyway.

CONTACT ARRANGEMENTS ONCE ADOPTION IS THE PLAN

6. We want to ensure that contact arrangements change as a child’s circumstances change and that they are consistent with plans for the child’s future. There are three key points at which contact arrangements need to be considered and reassessed:
(a) when the local authority makes a decision that a child should be placed for adoption, but no placement order has been made;
(b) at placement order; and
(c) when the child is placed with prospective adopters.
Should we look at existing guidance and regulations and consider where and how these can be strengthened to ensure a formal review and a clear decision making process about contact takes place at each of the three points?
Yes No
Please comment further:

Yes, this should be done anyway.

7. We want to minimise the risks of harm for the child as a result of badly planned and inappropriate contact arrangements.
Should we introduce a presumption of ‘no contact’ unless the local authority is satisfied that contact would be in the best interests of the child?
Yes No
Please comment further:

No. The presumption should ALWAYS be for prolonged, sustained, and regular contact unless the child is in immediate danger from such contact.

8. We want birth parents to gain the court’s permission to apply for contact, rather than being able to make a direct application to the court.
Should we introduce a ‘permission’ filter for birth parents, requiring them to get permission from the court to apply for contact with a child?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for alternative proposals:

No. There are already enough hoops for parents to have to jump through in order to sustain the very necessary contact with their children – adding yet another layer will only (a) add to expenses, and (b) be detrimental to the child by potentially reducing the amount of contact they get with their own parents.

9. We want potential adopters views to be taken into account at an early point when making contact arrangements.
Should we introduce a provision to explicitly seek the views of the potential adopters at an early point in relation to contact at the point of the placement order?
Yes No
Please comment further:

No. No adopter should take on a child that they are not ultimately willing to make massive sacrifices for, and if one of those sacrifices is more time spent enabling the child they are raising to make the most from any and all contact that they can have with their own parents, then that is what they should be doing. If they are not willing to sustain a strong relationship between the child they are raising and that child’s parents, then they should not be adopting.

CONTACT ARRANGEMENTS FOR ADOPTED CHILDREN

10. We want to give adoptive parents recourse where informal contact arrangements were causing difficulties.
Should we provide that the court can, on application for an adoption order, make an order for no contact?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for an alternative proposals:

No. The only time an order for no contact should be considered is if the biological parent in question is an imminent and immediate threat to the life and physical health of the child.

If informal contact arrangements are causing difficulties, then those experiencing this should re-apply to the courts for a more formal contact regime to be crafted, reflecting sensible aspects such as geographical distances, or shift-working patterns.

11. In addition to introducing a “no contact” order, we could raise the bar for any birth parent to make an application for a contact order. Criteria for granting permission already exists therefore we will explore how this might be strengthened.
Should we amend legislation to create a new more demanding ‘permission filter’?
Yes No
Please comment further, including any suggestions for an alternative proposals:

No. Contact between children and their own parents should not be restricted unless there is clear and compelling evidence that the parent will be an imminent and immediate threat to the life and physical health of the child.

12. What additional support do social workers and family justice professionals need to ensure their own practice and recommendations are informed by evidence about the positive and negative effects of contact for children who are adopted?
Please comment further:

Social workers and family justice professionals need to demonstrate comprehension of the impacts of adoption upon the adoptee, as explained in the following referenced books, before they can accurately educate others.

Brodzinsky, D.M. and Schechter, M.D. (1990) The Psychology of Adoption. New York: Oxford Press.

Lifton, B.J. (1988) Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.

Lifton, B.J. (1994) Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. New York: Basic Books.

Verrier, N.N.(1993) Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. Baltimore; Gateway Press, Inc.

Verrier, N.N.(2003) The Adopted Child Grows Up: Coming Home to Self. Baltimore; Gateway Press, Inc.

As explained by Verrier (2003, pp. 162-3):
Sometimes, terrible things happen to little children. Perhaps more often than we realize. Things that aren’t always recognized as terrible, such as being put in an incubator to save a life or placed with foster parents to avoid abuse, feel terrible to little children. We know that leaving children with abusive parents is a bad thing, but we don’t often recognize that children also suffer when placed with other people, even if those people are good. I am quite sure that many CPS (Child Protective Services) case workers don’t recognize the harm in taking children away from their real parents. Yet in the life of the child it is a huge transgression. These actions, although perhaps necessary, create attitudes in children that are sometimes harmful to them. … Sometimes social workers have to make these decisions, but they need to understand the pain for the children when they do. … Children may be harmed by keeping them in their abusive homes and by placing them with foster parents. … I am referring to the harm that comes from being separated from everything familiar – from family, even a bad family.

13. In what ways should we strengthen the training about contact for prospective adopters as part of the new adopter assessment process?
Please comment further:

It should be compulsory for prospective adopters to read the following books, and demonstrate comprehension of the issues discussed within them:

Lifton, B.J. (1988) Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc.

Lifton, B.J. (1994) Journey of the Adopted Self: A Quest for Wholeness. New York: Basic Books.

Verrier, N.N.(1993) Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child. Baltimore; Gateway Press, Inc.

Verrier, N.N.(2003) The Adopted Child Grows Up: Coming Home to Self. Baltimore; Gateway Press, Inc.

As explained by Verrier (2003, pg. 117):
It is sometimes difficult to spot grief in children. After all, it isn’t as if the child sits in a puddle of tears his entire childhood. As one adoptee said, “Of course I played, laughed, sang. Do people think that if you’re not sitting in a corner with your head on your knees, you are not sad? I had happy times, but the sadness was always there, even when I was having fun.”

14. What additional post adoption support could be offered, to help adoptive parents support their child to understand how to make or stop contact with their birth family?
Please comment further:

Education needs to begin with taking notice of what adult adoptees are describing. Examples of place to turn to find such things out are:

http://www.ukadoptees.co.uk

http://adultadoptees.org/

15. How can unsolicited contact, either from a birth parent or from an adoptive child to their birth family, be better managed?
Please provide any examples of good practice, particularly managing the use of social media.
Please comment further:

If contact is not removed, then such an issue will no longer occur because it will be acknowledged that families need to remain in touch.

16. Please use this space for any other comments you would like to make on the review of contact arrangements for children.

It is imperative that the Government and professionals involved in child welfare ameliorate the devastation contemporary adoption inflicts upon the adoptee. Whilst the complete removal of the adoption system is preferable, until this becomes possible, there is no good reason that adoptees should not be able to apply to have THEIR OWN adoptions annulled, or otherwise divorced, in the same way other legal arrangements (e.g. marriage) can be invalidated or otherwise terminated.

Additionally, I would like to invite whomever reads my Parental Contact Response to read my Sibling Contact Response too, as this describes much that is relevant to the issues surrounding parental contact.

Continue reading Part #2.

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Written by 7rin

Fri, 31 August, 2012 at 8:50 pm

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