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Adoption process potentially terminated due to “national shortage of babies”….Advice appreciated

Jorden A-P September 11, 2021 16:58

Hello All,

Just looking for advice really and to see if any other adopters in the uk are currently experiencing the same issue as us. We had a meeting with our social worker on Wednesday (8/09/21) who informed us that due to a ‘national baby shortage’ unless current adopters who have a preference for a baby who are with the agency are willing to change their preferences to older children (4+) the adoption agency will no longer continue the adoption process with them. She told us that in order to progress we would need to look at older children 4-7 years old, a sibling group or a disabled baby to continue. She said that we could potentially pause the process for 6 months and see what the demographic for adoption is like then (although the likelihood is nothing would have changed) or we could move to another agency and they would send all relevant information over however as this is a national issue we would face the same obstacles. Should nothing have changed after 6 months and we choose to not adopt at that point we would then have to start the process again “if and when” babies are up for adoption again this would include all references, training, health checks etc despite us coming to the end of stage 1 and beginning stage 2 in the next week or so. I asked her when babies are able to be adopted again how do they match the child to the adopters (as she said they are currently having the same conversation with 46 other people) and she couldn’t give me an answer. We are really disappointed that the agency are making this decision and are meeting with a manager next week, has anyone else met this obstacle or similar and do you have any advice or guidance you could give us? TIA 🤞🏻

Edited 11/09/21
Someone1977 September 11, 2021 17:41

If I’m totally honest, I would say I was willing to look at any child - once your approved I would hope the situation is very different as I do know the courts are quite heavily backed up. You don’t have to say yes to every child you’re shown.

We were told to do this by the social worker at the time - this was 5 years ago, and I know there were a lot more babies around then. She told us that once your approved, you can say what you like to any child you are offered.

Donatella September 11, 2021 23:51

If that’s how your sw worded it, then it’s a pretty crass way of describing it, however they’re not wrong and they’re not saying anything they weren’t saying years ago. The ‘availability’ of babies/children fluctuates - often as a knee jerk reaction to court cases, incidents that have made the press.

Ultimately though it’s not inaccurate. If you’re looking to adopt a baby then they will come with uncertainty. The majority will - eventually - have additional needs of one type or another whether that’s ADHD, ASD, FAS/D and so on. Lots will come with poor genetic histories and that’s a risk you have to take when you adopt, regardless of age. And, of course, that’s before you even consider trauma pre and post birth.

Your sw isn’t saying anything different to what my sw said 20 years ago. We knew that we wanted to do the whole baby thing but 20 odd years ago we didn’t really understand just how complex they were likely to be. Or that it would turn out to be a full time ‘job’ for me as I was never able to return to work. Same as many other parents I know. As it was, we had long waits post approval for our boys - 15 months for one and 20 months for the second. Our daughter was a child specific adoption as a sibling to one of our boys so that was much quicker.

I have three children. One’s 20 and in uni, NT but not without his difficulties. He was 5 months old at placement.

One is 17. He was 11 months old. He’s dx ASD and ADHD. Special Ed for 10 years and now back in mainstream for his As. Full time 1-1.

Last one is 16. Learning diffs and ASD. Placed at 12 months. Special Ed.

What does sw think ‘disabled’ is? What do you consider to be disabled? What abilities/disabilities can you cope with?

Realistically you’re going to be adopting a child - regardless of age - with additional needs. I’m struggling with the disabled terminology as that’s variable but your future child will be complex, regardless of age. What complexities/abilities/disabilities are you prepared for?

Edited 12/09/21
Safia September 12, 2021 08:48

A “national shortage of babies” does seem a very strange way of putting it! As if they were some sort of commodity. It is to the children’s detriment that care proceedings are so slow at the moment. My two were both taken into care as babies - one at 2mths old and one at birth - but both came to us as toddlers. There is a process that has to be gone through to decide on the best option for the child and so generally they would be in foster care during that time - and sometimes several different foster carers. One option is foster to adopt - has this been discussed with you? Where the child is placed with potential adopters while going through the process. Another thing to remember is that if a child is taken into care at a very young age often something very major has happened to them for that to happen - for example my daughter had a non accidental head injury as a small baby. I would definitely widen your options and look at each child on an individual basis - toddlers are still very little

Edited 12/09/21
Jorden A-P September 12, 2021 12:57

We would absolutely look at toddlers as an option however we’re being told that’s not an option. We are willing to wait as long as needed to ensure that we are right for the child and they are wait for us.

Our biggest issue is the fact the agency are saying they will end our process if we don’t look at children from 4-7.

Donatella September 12, 2021 16:01

If it helps, we were turned down by two agencies second time round as we didn’t want a sibling group. The third agency we approached accepted us - so look around?

Bluemetro September 12, 2021 16:51

Our experience was we were told to look at older children as more looking for placement (about 16 years ago). We said we would consider a 4-8 year old. However after waiting a while and not being matched with an older child, the agency that approved us asked us if we would consider a child under 1, who moved in at 10 months.

Safia September 12, 2021 17:34

Voluntary agencies are likely to be more flexible as LAs are looking to place the children they have for adoption or expect to have soon. When looking at the VA criteria of the agency we went with it included older children in their category of hard to place children but meant toddlers (ie older than babies) and above rather than what I’d consider an older child. But generally the more flexible you can appear to be the more likely they will take you forward - once you’re approved you just need to look at each individual child presented and make a decision round that - you’re agreeing to consider an older child nothing more

Edited 12/09/21
chestnuttree September 12, 2021 18:17

Have your seen profiles of actual children? We hadn't thought about age that much when we began the process, but assumed "baby" like most others. After reading a few profiles, I noticed I was drawn more to older children, because their personalities were more developed and I could picture our life with them more longterm. I would try to keep an open mind.

Things might change and there might be more babies available after you are approved, but they might not. I know adopters who were open to older children and got a baby, but also adopters who wanted a very young child and who were placed with an older one. If you are 100% set on a baby, I would change agencies.

Lilythepink September 16, 2021 17:26

I agree with all the above responses. "National baby shortage" - if that's what they said exactly - is a strange way of putting it.

Also, do they mean "baby" or do they mean "under 4"? As Safia says, we adopted our eldest at nearly 2, and she wasn't considered a baby.

Anyway, just an intuition and something about the way you've phrased it. Is this a voluntary agency rather than one of the local-authority/regional consortia agencies? Just a hunch but it sounds like a voluntary agency - whose business model is always finding placements for those LAs can't place MUCH MORE CHEAPLY with their "own" adopters - seeing that LAs will currently only go to them looking for adopters for older children, sibling group and babies they can't place, and ditching prospective adopters who don't fit the profile.

If you are looking for a child 0-4, it might be worth talking to other types of agency (ie. LAs if my hunch is correct) and sounding them out about the adopters they're looking for.

Edited 16/09/21
Remy2 September 27, 2021 16:21

Could it be because a lot of agencies are now looking to do foster to adopt / concurrency so babies are placed that way rather than through traditional adoption meaning children waiting to be adopted are older?

3cats October 4, 2021 11:58

We were told that currently there are far more adopters than children waiting due to Covid. Courts are still massively backed up so placement orders are being delayed. I know agencies are now a lot more selective on who they start the process with and it is taking a lot longer to be matched once approved as there are so many available adopters. You might be wise to think about extending your age range as by the time you’ve been approved the situation may have improved and the courts less backed up.

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