This post concerns a meeting where we went to get information about adopting from our council.
I should say that before I even write my first "proper post" I have a concern that there is something in this blog's nature that is going to make it read less balance than I would like. If I merely describe all the positive experiences about adopting (or intending to adopt) then it will be a very dull read. It is only the points of contention or of struggle that could ever be of interest but that could create the false impression that everything is difficult or a conflict. This is not to say that I don't expect adoption to be difficult (I expect it to be extremely difficult) but I do fear that all of the positive experiences and all of the support that I anticipate we will receive will be left out of my recounting.
Therefore I am forced to point out that the social workers at this meeting where very polite and helpful. They gave lots of useful information about the process and they were friendly to all the prospective adopters. The fact that recounting this is boring does not stop it from being true.
So what were my points of contention? None that I verbalised. To be clear, I did not speak out when things made me uncomfortable both because I wished to be impolite but also because I recognised that it would be impolitic. I guess this ability to vent my thoughts is the purpose of this blog.
So what made me uncomfortable. Well as I suspected before the talk it was the topic of matching. Specifically deciding whether to match a child to prospective adopters on the basis of that child's ethnicity, culture or religion. I do not have "an ideological" problem with ethnic or cultural matching. I understand (but I can not and do not calim to be able to empathise) that for a child to be in a situation where they are put up for adoption (be it via neglect abuse or bereavement) is deeply traumatic and being placed with parents that do not understand your culture can make it worse. Similarly I can understand that growing up without an understanding of your identity must be horrible and that this is exacerbated by having parents not from your culture and look dramatically different to you.
When asked about this (not by me) during the talk, the social workers were friendly and said that they would be open to intra-ethnic and intra-cultural adoption. They did however state that the parents must prove themselves to understand other cultures, demonstrate knowledge of what it is like to be from a minority background and be fully integrated into the mixed community of our borough. In an ideal world this would be an entirely sensible and worthy precaution. But we are not in an idea world.
What stood out for me though was when they said that they were looking for prospective adopters of a mixed heritage because the number one category of children in care that they could not find adoptive homes for was mixed ethnic children. As much as I admire social workers in general for their hard and self sacrificing work in a truly important field and as much as I admired these social workers in particular for the kind and helpful way they provided information in this talk, I cannot help but think that this fact is related to their over-stringent selection of parents. By only choosing mixed heritage prospective adopters and prospective adopters who are not of mixed heritage who have implacable credentials demonstrating themselves to be integrated and understanding they are not matching all of these children to the best parents but condemning the majority of these children to stay in the social care system.