Lynne Cudmore gave a talk about our 'The Children Were Fine' research at the British Society of Couple Psychotherapists and Counsellors, the Professional Association of the TCCR.
In July, we asked for an update on what progress Syd and Elaine had made in their attempts to influence policy in their local authority. They described some shifts in mindset, with their local authority allowing more time for the transition in the younger age group. However the issue of contact with foster carers remained difficult, and they told us that a particular problem is that ‘Promises made in the early stages of the transition are not being honoured by Adopters and their Social Workers.’
The examples they gave were typical of what we have found in many adoptive placements:
"It appears that in the cases where the Carer visits the child at the new home just after the move, then the child is upset when the Carer leaves, the solution chosen by the Adopters and their Social Worker to prevent further upset is to stop any future contact, until the child 'consolidates'. For us, this is emotional "cold turkey" for the child and we find it very distressing."
Syd and Elaine have set up a group of like-minded foster carers, and they have begun working in earnest to try to instigate a change in policy:
"Our Group believes the solution is to increase the visit frequency, (if practically possible), gradually reducing the length of the visit so that the child gets used to the idea of the Carer leaving, with the knowledge and confidence the Carer will return. When the child has the confidence of knowing that important, trusted and loved adults are not going to disappear from their lives, the child may then build up trust and an attachment with the Adopters.
"Experience shows... if Carers persist with the visits, the upset at the Carer leaving will reduce quickly and then disappear, allowing the visits to be tapered off to the more practical 2 or 3 times a year. (For those of us who have been fortunate enough to work with Adopters who invite us to continue to play a part in the child's life, this is generally the frequency of our contact - them to us or us to them)."
Syd and Elaine are urging that adopters need more education on this area, and that they should be given talks immediately after matching panel, and then again just before the planning meeting, emphasizing the need for gradual separations and then ongoing contact with foster carers after the move. They have written some proposals for their local authority including new draft guidelines for transitions into adoption, using the recommendations in our paper as a starting point.
Please find their full follow-up email below (printed with Syd and Elaine's permission:
Hello Sophie and Lynne,
Lynne Cudmore was recently asked to join an advisory panel for a new TCCR programme for adoptive parents, entitled 'Adopting Together: Relationship Support for Adoptive Parents'.
Click here to find out more about this programme.
This topic has been gaining momentum in recent months. This news section includes some examples of recent coverage.