For the traumatised child, love is simply not enough.Posted by Francesca on Jul 2, 2013 in Blog | 0 comments
Time and again the simplistic utterings of the Cameron government invite my despair and bemusement at the same time. Cameron and co’s whole act is based on pronouncements about ‘fixing things’ that they have identified as broken. This has been their rationalel for many of their inhumane policies towards people on benefits and this same philosophy governs their rather naive views on what will ‘fix’ the adoption process.
So according to Cameron and the invisible and highly reticent Edward Timpson (Minister for Children apparently though you would not think so) the reason why many potential parents don’t adopt is because adoption gets bad press. Not for a moment have they considered that the bad press is warranted. It is not a case of people being fed lies; mostly it is that those who might know anything about adoption, know that there is no support for families once you have adopted. The subset of the population who might consider adopting are generally a well-informed lot: they know that once you take on the responsibility of a child who has been in the care system you get a sack load of trauma and neglect but not tools to help you deal with it. Kids in care suffer twice (at least), first from biological parents who can’t look after them or don’t want them. They’re already messed up but the care system then shunts them around and makes sure they’re well and truly feeling the pain of neglect.
Love is not enough for these kids. For someone adopted as a baby it may be ok but the reality is that most kids will be toddlers at least, before they are adopted. They will have felt abuse, emotional and physical pain and much more besides. They will need specialist care to either prevent them developing a form of mental illness or to treat it . But they won’t get it. Almost to the day that parents and children come together to form a family, they will be left alone. Local authorities and councils, happy to pass the parcel, will cross them off their list.
This example is typical of how well-meaning people end up exhausted after fighting for years to get post-adoption support for their kids. Most never secure funding for the therapy that’s needed and it is not uncommon for them to return the child to care because they are unable to cope.
“Our son, who we’ve had since he was two, at age nine became incredibly aggressive and clearly has behavioural problems. “Now he’s a nearly 16-year-old who’s over 20 stone, and I’ve been pinned against the wall and my head smashed in. I regularly would get hit,and his mouth is like a sewer. I love him to bits, but I wouldn’t say I’m very proud of him. We’ve been close many times to picking up the phone and saying ‘we can’t do this’.”
While social workers may reassure parents during the adoption process that they have the right to an assessment of a child’s needs, they may not explicitly communicate that there is no duty on a local authority to provide the services to meet any needs that are identified. And because no statutory agency has any obligation to stump up, all too often, they don’t.
And so we come back again to one of the central platforms for Adopt a Better Way: the lack of a central regulating body. Without it we have no exact data as to how many children are returned to care as a result of lack of support. how many children develop mental illness during their first years in care and what is needed to minimise this awful chain of events. initiatives such as the ill-thought out adoption passport do not attempt to address key issues including how to monitor the performance of councils or how to move towards a structure that supports children and parents so they can come together and stay together. But with such a reductive government in power, one who talks a great deal about families but whose policies are almost resolutely anti-family, it is hard to see how this will happen.