The stories I receive are generally all heartbreaking, all lacking in support from social workers – many find the information on the child was not forthcoming or completed and find ‘disruption’ a last resort but one which they feel they have no choice but to do. Some parents are contemplating disruption and simply don’t know what to do next. Attachment disorders are one of the most common reasons and many parents like yourself are in utter despair. Violence is common, and breakdowns of marriages and breakdowns full stop are common. Please note you are not alone and your voice does count.
In meantime I hope you find some relevant information on this website. By helping each other we help ourselves and until the government step in and do something about the appalling lack of support and treatment of adopters, (and do something about the adoption system and social workers and Local Authorities) we are currently left with no choice except to start up groups like this.
My ultimate aim is to change the nature of the Care Order , have better education for Social Workers & Local Authorities and improve adoption procedures and lastly create a new culture of no blame when an adoption fails.
Please contact me directly via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish your details to be added to our ever growing list.
This is a great place to make contact and private message people – you will find a lot of support on these two sites.
There is also an adoptiondisruptionuk facebook group (still in infancy but please post so we can grow our group)
UK Support Groups
I could find no UK support group online dedicated to supporting survivors of Adoption Disruption which is why this website has been set up in January 2015. This system is manned by myself and hence why it can take a while for me to respond to all the enquiries. However the main idea behind it is to offer support between parents – if you wish to submit your email details to me (give me a synopsis of your story) and tell me your UK location I can add you to our support group.
Only emails will be given out – no telephone numbers unless you go on to choose so.
The whole support network of this Adoption Disruption Website group does hinge on parental support for one and other.
Adopting in the UK – brief background
In the UK, Adopters commonly only meet their future Adoptive child when they have come to take them home. The Adoptive Parent must be approved by a panel of approximately 14 people prior to even meeting the child they wish to potentially adopt. There is a two week period of settling in – the only information the Adoptive Parent will have received by this point is the CPR report (Child Permanence Report) – a report compiled from psychiatric/doctors reports on the parents and reviews on the child’s development by Social Workers and current Doctors information relayed by Social Workers visiting the child, a Doctor’s report and visit, and a short video and a couple of photographs.
The Adoptive Parent will then normally progress to formally adopt their child within a nine month period or so but this can vary for each adopter. During this time the Social Worker will visit you in your home and ask about any issues or problems and offer support.
- The issue of how Adoptions in the UK should be achieved is an ongoing & heated debate.
Prior to an Adoption Disruption
The Adoptive Parents will normally have sought support and help from Social Workers. The Social Workers will have been alerted to the problems between Parent and Child and it is not normally an ‘out of the blue’ situation. There will have been/should have been an open dialogue between both sides and support from Social Workers to the Adoptive Parent.
At this point I had the full support of my Social Workers involved as it was acknowledged by son’s medical needs were so extensive there was no care package that could be offered to cope with his requirements. Therefore I did not make the decision to have him put back into care – there was simply no other choice available.
Emails/Communication during this time
Make sure you keep a record of all email correspondence between you and social workers – this is vitally important. Get receipts so you know they have read emails, and keep all copies. Avoid phone calls where possible as they cannot be recorded and attend any meetings with a partner and a friend who can act as a third ear – never attend alone. This is crucial advise when approaching a disruption.
What is Adoption Disruption? Adoption Disruption is ending an adoption placement for any number of reasons. While technically an adoption is disrupted only when it is abandoned by the adopting parent or parents before it is legally completed (an adoption that is reversed after that point is instead referred to in the law as having been dissolved), in practice the term is used for all adoptions that are ended. While rarely discussed in public, even within the adoption community, the practice has become far more widespread in recent years, especially among those parents who have adopted from Eastern European countries, particularly Russia and Romania, where some children have suffered far more from their institutionalization than their parents were led to believe. It also commonly happens in the UK too.
Despite the intense and careful screening that most who wish to adopt children must go through, sometimes the adoption does not succeed for a variety of reasons. The child may have developmental, psychological or medical issues that the parents cannot handle, or had not been informed of prior to the adoption, or both. More information on these children must be realized prior to going up for adoption.
When is the term Adoption Disruption applied?
An Adoption Disruption can be said to have occured during the two week introductions between the Parent and Adoptive Child or prior to the Adoptive Order (ie the legal adoption of the child) or post Adoptive Order has been granted – whenever they occur they are hugely traumatic for all involved.
A Care Order has to be sought by Social Workers in order for the child to return back to state care and put back up for fostering in the interim with a long term view to re-adoption or remaining in care. This requires the Adoptive Parent to attend court potentially up to four times or more. The LA or Social Workers will submit their reasons to the Judge why the Care Order must be granted for their child to be returned to state care.
The Care Order notification
The Adoptive Parent should be given at least 72 hours’ notice of the first court appearance regarding the Care Order. Anything less than that you can appeal for an adjournment and give yourself time to find a solicitor. The social worker/LA will also get a dressing down by the judge for this.
The LA’s will advise a list of solicitors who will represent you free of charge however please note they will all most likely be sympathetic to the LA’s and not you. However stand your ground and insist on a no blame approach to obtaining the Care Order.
LA’s should be more responsible in talking to Adoptive Parents about the court process and what the Care Order involves in advance of the court date. I was not told in advance at all about the Care Order and it came as a shock to be summoned to court with less than 48 hours’ notice – hence why I submitted my own statement at my first court appearance because I had no time to find a solicitor. My statement requested the Threshold Criteria should be on a no blame basis.
If you need legal advice regarding the process or need a sympathetic solicitor contact Nigel Priestly – he will be able to give you advice on what to do next – his details are on the adoptiondisruption website.
The Threshold Criteria is what Local Authorities/Social Workers are required to meet in order to prove that a child is at risk of emotional, psychological, physical harm if it should remain with its current Adoptive Parents. Sound simple enough?
And yet the Threshold Criteria in its very process will potentially denigrate the parent in its current format and it is the Care Order form I wish to petition to change because it requires the Social Worker to return the child to state care on grounds that the Parent is/are basically causing their child harm.
(see Petition on this website)
Of course there are cases where an Adoptive Parent has indeed caused harm to the child, however the vast majority of children returned to state care by Adoptive Parents have generally gone through extreme heartache and tried their best to care for their Adoptive child. In the vast majority of cases I have read about in online Forums, Adoptive Parents have only returned their child because of extreme reasons and not through lack of love or devotion. That these Adoptive Parents should then be potentially denigrated because of the wording on the Care Form is shocking and that this will then unduly influence future Adoption Agencies against them being parents again is only compounding the tragedy.
There is hope however.
I submitted my own Threshold Criteria to the Judge and it was accepted.
My Threshold Criteria set out to confirm that there was potential for harm to arise to my son with two parties (the LA and myself) essentially sharing Parental Responsibilities (PR). In essence because of my child’s extensive medical needs, there was potential for him to come to harm but with no blame assigned to either party.
This was a no blame approach, and I was successful in achieving my Threshold Criteria.
However this was a tremendous battle and incredibly upsetting and hurtful at the time I was experiencing the loss of my son.
(You can read about my experience in My Story)
Why did I seek the No Blame Approach for my Care Order?
I was aware that a future adoption could be difficult with the Care Order as it stood and I did not wish to have my record as a mother who had struggled with a very disabled and medically unwell child to be blemished by the Care Order contents written by the SW involved in my case.
It is the No Blame Approach I want available to all parents who have had a child with significant medical needs or other similar difficult grounds.
Data Subject Request
Previously known as freedom of information act. If things are getting difficult between you and social workers – please note all Local Authorities have a Data Protection Team which you can reach via switchboard and get an email. Send them a letter authorising that you would like all correspondence and information on your file that relates to both you and your child (they will hold two separate files) It may take a couple of months but this information is incredible helpful and vital if you are to hold your own in court or in a formal complaint against the LA’s.
Complaints Process within the LA
Be aware that the LA have an internal complaints process at Stage 1.
If you are not satisfied after Stage 1 it will go to Stage 2 whereupon an independent investigator will come to your home to listen and make notes. These people are not independent and are paid by the LA and are unlikely to be on your side. But this is the long winded process.
After Stage 3 – if it gets this far as likely the LA will want to shut your case down, then you can apply to the government Ombudsman – however they too are reluctant to blame LA’s.
Contact your MP/local media and national media
It would be my advice to do the following as soon as you wish to disrupt.
Contact your local MP and get him/her to write to your LA immediately so the LA will know they are basically under survelliance from an unhappy constituent.
If still not happy contact your local papers and radios. Failing that go national – let me know if you decide to do this and I can supply you with contacts for major newspapers and media. This is the only way to make local authorities accountable for their actions/deceptions.
Adoption Disruption Meeting (ADM)
An Adoption Disruption Meeting is normally held three/four months after your child has gone into care. If it does not you have cause for complaint. It will normally be in a room with up to 14/15 professionals including Doctors, Pediatricians, Social Workers, the Chair Person, and secretary etc.
In my case I had a very supportive Chair Person and suggestions I made were put on my record, however whether they will have had any long term purpose I am unsure. I recommended at my Adoption Disruption Meeting (this occurs three/four months after your child has gone into care) that certain children are ‘flagged’ up as potentially problematic children on the Social Workers database so that the minute an Adoptive Parent flags up issues the Social Workers can work immediately to enhance/support the situation and already have a good understanding of the child’s requirements and possible needs which in turn would help the Parent.
Make sure you do not accept any blame for the break down of the placement during this meeting.
Social Workers were agreed that I had not been offered the care and support one might have expected during the time my son had gone back into care. I have had one visit from a Social Worker to date.
If you wish to adopt again now is the time to bring it up and see social workers look agitated. Try to get someone to acknowledge that this disruption will not hold you back from adopting again – should you wish to. This will then be in writing in the meeting minutes.
I believe the reason for the lack of support post Adoption Disruption directly reflects on the Care Order as it currently stands. Social Workers must potentially denigrate the Adoptive Parent in order to gain a Care Order, and automatically once the child is back in care, Social Workers appear to automatically distance themselves from the Adoptive Parent and support and sympathy is withdrawn.
This creates a culture of suspicion, misunderstanding, confusion and social stigmatism for the Adoptive Parent at a time when support is so crucially required. (see the Petition and why the Care Order must change)
Aftermath of Adoption Disruption
A child who is disrupted is usually put first into foster care, pending placement with a new family, unless they reach the age of 18 and legally become adults before this happens. Or they will be put back up for adoption.
Attitudes toward disruption
Few parents who have disrupted adoptions have been willing to talk about the process, since it carries a strong social stigma. Many will only tell their story anonymously. It is seen by many as essentially legally sanctioned abandonment, especially since there is no corresponding legal procedure available for biological parents who find their children beyond their ability to handle, apart from giving their children up for adoption.
Those who do disrupt and discuss it describe the experience as, unsurprisingly, extremely painful, almost like a death in the family, and shameful. You are not alone and everyone contacting me pretty much reports the same story.
Since no records are kept or required to be kept of how many disruptions occur beyond those filed in court, which are confidential, there is no way to be sure how many are occurring.
It remains impossible to say how many people who had had a child put back into care have gone on to successfully adopt again. This information remains hidden. Local Authorities deny that prejudice is faced by adopters when they wish to adopt again. However when I tried to find out how many parents had had a care order and then gone on to successfully adopt again I was told this information would cost me £450. There is no easy access to adopting again and information is not forthcoming. There is a general feeling that Adoptive Parents are abandoned, and relegated to the sidelines.
There should be no reason why an Adoptive Parent cannot use the immeasurable skills they have required during their difficult adoption and successfully go on to adopt again. There should be no stigma.
Try to get in writing from your LA that they will support a future adoption plan for you. If you get this let me know – so far I don’t know of anyone who has successfully adopted again after a disruption.
There is increasing evidence that Social Workers are NOT prepared to split up siblings. If you take on siblings and later decide that for whatever reason you only wish to keep one, social workers are likely to remove both children from you. This can be heartbreaking for parents who strongly believe that splitting up the children is in the interests of both siblings
Counselling and Therapy
I would recommend any parent who has gone through or is going through the painful experience of Adoption Disruption to seek counselling with an experienced counsellor/psychotherapist. Adoption Disruption UK has been set up to encourage people to share their stories and not be stigmatized by them. Sharing and talking to people who have been through an experience like this is the way forward.
Warm wishes Claire