(2) Key Points on the Adoption and Children Bill

Adoption and Children Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 12:00 pm on 21 November 2001.

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As will be clear from the above description of its work, the Trust does not run adoption services. However, because of the specific nature of its close work over many years with the looked after population, the organisation has been represented on the Cabinet Committee on Adoption and on The Adoption Partnership Council. The Trust wishes to put across to Committee Members what it has learned from children and young people in respect of adoption:

i) It is important to take on board the views of children and young people about such an important issue. The Trust devoted an edition of Who Cares? Magazine to ascertaining a balance of views from children and young people on adoption to ensure that they, as a group, had a say in and were not left out of the debate. A copy is enclosed for Committee Members.

ii) Adoption is not a ``one size fits all`` solution to the needs of all children considered for adoption. It is not understood widely enough that children in public care may prefer to cope with the ambiguity of knowing they cannot live with their family, yet still retain their identity, rather than change that existing identity and family situation through adoption. We are therefore pleased that the interests of the individual child are at the heart of the new Bill and that, where adoption is the appropriate course of action, legal proceedings will be speeded up.

iii) The Trust feels that it has not yet been able to communicate effectively enough the need for post-adoption support for both children and adoptive parents, in the best interests of children and successful relationships within the new family. The Bill does not at present propose anything better in this respect than current legislation offers. However satisfactory adoption proceedings may be for both parties, an enormous adjustment is to be made on both sides when adoption takes place. Children are still the most vulnerable parties yet, once adoption proceedings are completed, they are suddenly without recourse to any help from external sources if necessary. They need a softer transition and the opportunity for on-going support.

iv) Whilst we respect the point of view of newly adoptive parents, that they may wish to cut free from the very authorities who have vetted their suitability and scrutinised their behaviour preceding cases coming to court, we are still pressing for post adoption support to prevent adoptive families from breaking up. This is more likely to occur with older children (those adopted from 5 years upwards).

v) Most families experience some turbulence when children reach adolescence. This is a particularly difficult time for adoptive children as they search for their own identity. The reluctance of adoptive families to seek help, if they need it at this point, may lead to the adoption breaking down. We propose that, following adoption, both adoptive parents and individual children should have access to help from independent agencies, in the interests of ensuring successful adoption. This would allow for a range of possible services to support both children and adoptive parents finding the transition difficult and for advocacy for children to help them have an equal voice in the process.