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Adoption and expenses

Louisa Compton | 08:55 UK time, Thursday, 10 December 2009

On the programme today: a fascinating insight into becoming an adoptive parent in Britain in 2009. 5 live listener Jack and his wife have recently been approved as adoptive parents. Jack contacted us because he wanted to speak out about the 18 month process which he describes as an "horrendous" bureaucratic and box ticking nightmare. He also questioned the objectivity of some of the social workers he met along the way. Jack and his wife are both public sector workers in North London and describe themselves as "normal middle class people". Jack isn't really called Jack. We've changed his name and some of his personal details because he's concerned that his hopes of adopting a child would be damaged if his local authority knew he had gone public. So because of that, his words are spoken for him. Listen to the two-part interview here.

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Plus, details of more expenses claimed by MPs for their second homes have been released this morning. Have a look at the link here and tell us what your MP has claimed for. When you click on the link - scroll down towards the bottom of the page and look up your own MP. The figures added to the website today cover the costs your MP has claimed for when staying away from their main home in 2008/09 (under the Commons Additional Costs Allowance) and the first quarter of 2009/10 (under the Personal Additional Accommodation Expenditure which replaced the ACA in April this year).

Comments

  • 1. At 10:32am on 10 Dec 2009, laughingmarmalade wrote:

    Regarding his story regarding social workers, you have to laugh or else you would cry.

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  • 2. At 10:37am on 10 Dec 2009, Curmy wrote:

    I'm listening to this completely gobsmacked ,what a complete waste of time some of this process is.
    No wonder there are so many children in care !
    It's not surprising so many people go abroad to adopt.


    .


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  • 3. At 11:06am on 10 Dec 2009, zelda wrote:

    In all honesty. Is anyone really surprised at any of this?

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  • 4. At 11:20am on 10 Dec 2009, Councillor X wrote:

    I'm not surprised at the stories today regarding adoption.

    I'm a councillor (in a borough which shall remain nameless), as well as knowing personally a couple currently going through the process.

    My colleagues who sit on adoption panels have a few stories about the sometimes surreal world of the panels. One colleague was once berated by the "professionals" on the panel because he used the phrase "seeing the whites of their eyes" - this was racist, apparently.

    We have an ongoing battle to get more councillors on the panels, as we feel this would bring a better balance between professional social workers and those with (shall we say) "other life experiences" - i.e. people who have not been indoctrinated with this month's politically correct and approved way of thinking.

    Of course we must vet thoroughly all prospective adopters, but we must make sure it doesn't slip into "social engineering".

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  • 5. At 11:40am on 10 Dec 2009, Binkie wrote:

    All good and fine publishing MPs allowances but if you want some credibility Victoria as a 'journo ' can I ask why did the BBC block and take legal action as regards releasing the salaries of their 'top stars ' and presenters ?

    Victoria,if you would care to inform the licence payers and show there is no bias in releasing information such as this, could you please tell the public how much you earn and your expenses ?It would be extremely helpful to everyone concerned in obtaining some perspective.

    Remember the currrent George Osborne laughable mantra and analogy regarding the present times ' We are all in this together '.

    Some more than others eh ?

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  • 6. At 11:42am on 10 Dec 2009, Ian Williams wrote:

    Having fostered for nearly 20 years, the 'Form F process' is bureaucratic, intrusive but necessary to make sure adopters and foster carers are suitable.

    The issue is that the culture in Childrens Social Services has become paranoid and obsessively risk averse. Many social workers are not up to the job and become defensive when they are held to account. This applies to the private sector agencies as well as the local authorities.

    Sympathy for the pressure and stress social worker face should be limited. They go home at the end of the day and switch off. Foster carers manage the difficult children in their care 24 x 7 - usually with poor quality support.

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  • 7. At 12:08pm on 10 Dec 2009, D'Manc wrote:

    You are an excellent presenter, I like the way you don't try to force your views and opinions on the public but instead help to bring the best out of the callers.

    This make very interesting and informative listening.

    A big thank you and wish many many more presenters would try to emulate your style!

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  • 8. At 2:37pm on 10 Dec 2009, Stephen_Hunts wrote:

    Having just looked at a local MP's expenses - Jonathan Djanogly, Con, Huntingdon - and reignited my downright fury about the arrogance and dishonesty of these people a couple of thoughts spring to mind.
    Should we be represented by individuals who don't understand the wording on a legal document that they are signing in order to claim public money?
    "You can only claim for: additional expenses wholly,exclusively and necessarily incurred to enable you to stay overnight away from your only or main home for the purpose of performing your Parliamentary duties"
    What is wholly necessary about jam making equipment, gardening, a very expensive AEG freezer and automatic entry gates amongst others?
    It would also appear that this particular MP isn't concerened about global warming. With a gas bill of over £1,000 for one quarter he and his family appear to be making their own personal hole in the ozone layer. Still maybe I would whack the thermostat up if I knew some other mug was paying for it.
    And what happened to the very expensive and unreceipted cleaner once the scandal broke? Hoovered herself up probably.

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  • 9. At 3:00pm on 10 Dec 2009, Stephen_Hunts wrote:

    I just had a look at poor old Jacqui Smiths as well. Her partner likes a bit of do it yourself and there's a Wickes receipt there to prove it!

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  • 10. At 4:21pm on 10 Dec 2009, phineyj wrote:

    I'm surprised at the BBC for broadcasting such a one-sided feature.

    I don't doubt that the anonymous interviewee has some genuine grievances. However, children being placed for adoption have been through some horrendous experiences and that is why prospective adopters have to be checked out so thoroughly. When you adopt, you are likely going to be involved with social workers for quite some time to come, needing advice what with the children being generally so damaged, and to facilitate the current practice of encouraging supervised contact with birth families where possible. Taking such a hostile/entitled attitude to what the social workers are required to do is hardly going to help.

    I'm sure part of the slowness of the process is normal local authority inertia, but I reckon another part of it is to see if the couple really understand the seriousness of what they are taking on and to give them adequate time to back out if they get cold feet.

    My husband and I are looking to adopt. We have checked out three local authorities and a voluntary agency so far and are going with the one that showed us most respect and seems most efficient. I have never met a social worker before starting on this process and the thing that has surprised me most is how helpful and professional they generally are -- it's certainly not the impression you get from the media.

    I have come across one local authority adoption team that was less than helpful...I wonder if the interviewee checked out more than one? They're definitely not all the same and although they're all working to the same legislation, the attitude and leadership of a particular social work department appears to make a huge difference.

    I do agree that giving the 'Be My Parent' publications to people who haven't yet been approved as adopters, and featuring children in them who aren't really available, is wrong and misleading...I would even say cruel.

    But there is quite enough off-putting material about adoption out there already without the BBC adding to it.

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  • 11. At 4:49pm on 10 Dec 2009, davejarvie wrote:

    As a couple who are waiting to get matched with a child abroad can we point out that we have to go through the exact same home study process as couples who are adopting from the UK!
    Only our report/papers then have to go through different organsations like the Government, lawyers, foreign and commonwealth office etc etc We started the process 2006, were approved by panel in 2007 and we are still waiting to be matched!
    Having said that we agree with everything Jack said about the process.

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  • 12. At 7:57pm on 10 Dec 2009, paris wrote:

    As someone who has just completed the adoption home study and been approved for adoption I find this gentleman's comments quite worrying. He explains that he is a nice middle class man etc. and this could be seen by the Social Worker, is he telling us this so we can see that because he is middle class he will be an excellent parent thus should not be thoroughly assessed? Being a "nice middle class" person does not automatically make you a suitable adoptive parent for children who have more than likely suffered some form of abuse or huge losses in their life. Perhaps I am misinterpreting his points but I feel that he is saying because of his circumstances it is obvious we would be good parents. Adopting children is not about having a "flock" to take to social gatherings. To balance his complaints you need to look at adopters whose adoption journey disrupts, they often say they felt they had not been prepared for adoption, hence there needs to be a robust home study and assessment. I know many adoptions that have broken down because families have done what this gentleman has suggested, i.e. don't offend the social worker, which means you are only saying what you think they want to hear, it is not about offending the social worker, if you can't handle a social worker challenging you how will you handle a child with behavioral and attachment issues? How will you challenge schools and health professionals when necessary? The families that have not been honest about their own strengths and weaknesses are often the families whose adoption disrupts as they are not properly "matched" to a child. It is a social workers job to assess potential parents regardless of how nice they are. For the adoption system to work prospective adopters need to be honest. I personally feel more concerned about the journey children have been on, than myself having to complete paperwork and have indepth discussions with social workers, this will help to equip me when I have a child who is asking why their birth parents abused them, or trying to teach a child how to express their feelings and make sense of them.



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  • 13. At 9:38pm on 10 Dec 2009, zelda wrote:

    With the greatest of respect Paris, you sound just like a PC social worker. Phrases like "how will you handle a child with behavioral and attachment issues? How will you challenge schools and health professionals when necessary?" "I personally feel more concerned about the journey children have been on" seem to me to come from a PC handbook.
    Kids need stability, love and people who care about them. Of course prospective adoptive parents should be thoroughly vetted and interviewed but with common sense and dignity.

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  • 14. At 09:54am on 11 Dec 2009, ozbeeuk wrote:

    The homestudy process, according to the Care Commission, is meant to take 6 months. For us it was about 2 years. It is not the depth of the process I object to, which is rigorous and certainly makes you think deeply about the commitment you are making, but the stretch of time it takes - there can be long delays between prep classes and personal interviews taking place and then there can be long gaps between each interview, the report being written up and a panel date. That's without getting to matching - there may well be thousands of children needing a permanent loving home but it is not a quick process for many. Every adoption worker I have met has been far too busy, however well meaning, juggling the many demands on her/his time.
    I am being kinder to the professionals than I mean to be, as I do think there are a lot of personal assumptions and biases brought into the matching which can work against placement. By all means try to find the perfect fit, but the truly perfect fit would be a child who never needed to be adopted in the first place, and sometimes it is better to compromise and end interim care arrangements which cause issues of their own.

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