The voice of the child

The voice of the child

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This expression is used a lot within the adoption world. Many times social workers comment on the importance of the childs’ needs within our care system – that everything we do throughout the process is supposedly about protecting the needs of the child. Whilst I understand the intentions behind these comments I’m coming to realise that this is not the case when you look at the systems involved. Many social workers believe that what they are doing is the best for these children and of course removing them from a harmful and traumatic environment is the right thing to do, however as a service user of these systems in the UK I’m beginning to be disillusioned by the bureaucracy and the seemingly adult centred approach.

For example there are lots of reforms going on at the moment within our system to speed up children going into care and becoming adopted. However at the same time services are being taken away that will support that family once a child has been placed. The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in many local authorities are becoming very difficult to access and specialist teams in the area of Attachment are being de-commissioned due to government cuts.

As adoptive parents, certainly in the UK, we have to fight for many of the services needed for our children. Help with education, financial help, therapeutic services and general understanding and awareness, makes adoptive parenting a real struggle at times. This decision to close those already limited services means we will again have to fight to find help for children who are struggling with how their lives have begun, and the impact on that now for them.

So why this subject for my blog? Recently I heard a politician talk about finding a voice for these children and I thought “yes they do need someone to speak up for them” as I looked around the room of very dedicated, exhausted and disillusioned parents who were listening to this politician I thought “that’s what we’ve been doing all along, that’s what it feels like most of the time – that we have to advocate for our children as they cannot express their needs themselves”.

I do wish more than anything that someone within government would look at the picture for these children end to end – instead of within each area without looking over the wall to see how their decisions and actions will impact another part of the child’s journey. When social services make a decision how does it impact on education? When a therapeutic service closes how will it impact on adoption breakdowns and children going back into care? I’m not saying I could do a better job, or that it’s an easy job by any means but surely the way we are working now (short term knee jerk reactions) could have terrible long term impacts for these children, their families and the finances involved!

I’d love to hear other peoples views on this subject. I know it’s a controversial one and I may be opening a can of worms, but it’s so very real for me at the moment with my own children but also many other adopters I know who desperately need these post adoption services and they are inadequate at present.

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