The adoption system isn’t perfect, but it has evolved to protect children

I read Nina Lopez’s letter (1 Junie) on adoption with sadness, both because of the example she gave and also because she doesn’t tell the whole story around adoption today. “Forced” is an emotive term and that applies appropriately to those adoptions of the 1960s and 1970s. That 90% of adoptions are forced – ie court ordered – is not surprising, given that few children are relinquished (or given up) for adoption these days. Fortunately, parents are not forced to give up their children because they are born out of wedlock. They might be forced if the child in question is being harmed, or likely to be harmed and cannot be placed within the family. Practice has undoubtedly changed since the 1960s, thank goodness. It has evolved to protect children, not to make discriminatory and unfair judgments on parents.

That is not to say mistakes aren’t made. They are, and Lopez gives a clear example of what appears to be very bad practice. But in my 17 years as a social worker specialising in adoption in local authorities, I saw nothing like that occur. The courts might be a closed system, but my many years’ experience of them were generally positive – judges were very aware of the enormity of the decisions they were making.

It’s not a perfect system. We hear of mistakes and social workers come in for much criticism, but what we don’t hear about is the children who are placed for adoption because they would otherwise have come to further harm if left in their birth families.
Anne Porteous
Bradninch, Devon

I read with interest the letters on forced adoption (1 Junie) en social services (4 Junie). Jean Robertson-Molloy writes that people are afraid to call in social services to help at an early stage, and this is so true. Egter, they could call on Home-Start for support. Home-Start is a national charity with local branches that are independently organised. Volunteers support families with preschool children by visiting their homes or by running family playgroups. Clients may be referred by doctors, health visitors or social workers, but they can also self-refer.

Our intervention at an early stage keeps families together and enriches the lives of children in countless ways. We are desperate for volunteers at the moment and ask anyone who has brought up children to contact their local branch where they will be welcomed with open arms and full training.
Linda Weir
Volunteer, Tuis-Start Horizons

I read the letters on forced adoptions with interest. I trained in the late 1950s as an almoner, but after a break for childcare, worked with families and in mental health for more than 30 jare, mainly in the voluntary/charitable sector.

My experiences led me to believe that the most important factor in preventing family breakdown and the removal of children to care was early intervention. Evidence shows that this is a cost-effective way of working. My work with the small, local charity Friends of the Family (Winchester) put these ideas into practice by offering support to vulnerable families with preschool children as early as possible.

The help was twofold, for parents and children. The mothers met separately for group therapy and the children’s needs were met with experienced play workers and volunteers in child-led play. All the mothers had the kind of damaging experiences such as childhood abuse, poor parenting and mental health, which got in the way of the parent they wanted to be. One important factor was that this kind of intervention, to be effective, took time, especially in the ability to trust, and to change ways of managing life. This approach would be impossible for statutory social workers who have to work in a time-limited way.

The group met at the Friends Meeting House and was founded by two Quakers, a magistrate on the juvenile bench and myself. The work, much expanded, continues today and included therapeutic support for fathers.
Ann Titman
Winchester

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