Monday, April 12, 2010

Good Intentions: Adoption! Adoption! Adoption!

Adopted Russian boy, 7, returned by US mother on one-way flight to Moscow... alone: Telegraph
“A confused and upset-looking Artem Saveliev arrived unaccompanied in Moscow on a flight from Tennessee via Washington, on Thursday. He had with him a rucksack containing colouring pens, sweets and biscuits, which had been packed for the journey.
“On his arrival, he gave immigration officials a typed note from his adoptive mother, Torry Ann Hansen, a nurse from Shelbyville, Tennessee, explaining in two succinct paragraphs why she no longer wanted a boy she adopted in September last year.”

In a chapter in The Cockroach Catcher called Good Intentions, I wrote:

.......“It is important for our own sanity to assume that government policies in a democratic country have good intentions.”

   “Tony Blair set a goal in 2000 for a 50 per cent increase in adoptions, to reduce the time children spent in foster care. In the last round of targets, councils were offered bonuses totaling £36 million for increasing the number and speed of adoptions.
   Cash rewards for councils which put up more babies for adoption could be scrapped in a shake-up of government targets.
   Campaigners blame the incentives for a sharp rise in adoptions, some of which they claim involve babies taken from their parents for no good reason.
More than 2,000 babies aged under 12 months were taken for adoption last year, almost three times the level of a decade ago.”

   The rate for older children adoption actually dropped in that period. That was Tony Blair’s original intention.

   They were good intentions.
Again in The Telegraph: 
April 12. 2010
Lord Justice Wall said the failure of social workers in the London borough of Greenwich to support a mother trying to make changes to her life and get back her two children, who are in care, was ''quite shocking''.
The judge said what occurred would do little to dispel the perception of many that social workers were ''arrogant and enthusiastic removers of children from their parents into an unsatisfactory care system - trampling on the rights of parents and children in the process.''

April 13, 2010
Lord Justice Wall will be sworn in today as the president of the High Court’s Family Division. Jack Straw, the Justice Secretary, originally challenged his appointment. Lord Justice Wall has been an outspoken critic of some government policies, including the funding of family courts.

BBC 1999:

As part of the government's £375m Quality Protects shake-up of services for children in care, the Children's Social Services framework set local authorities clear targets to improve the safety and wellbeing of children in care.  The intention is that vulnerable children will spend less time waiting to be adopted under these new targets.
   Government figures reveal the number of children being looked after rose to 55,300 - up 4% on 1998 and 11% on 1995.  In some 34,100 of these cases - 2,000 more than the previous year, local authorities were forced to go to court to obtain a care order to protect the child.  44% were under 10 years old.

As expected, these targets influenced behaviours, not always in a desirable way.

The Telegraph: 2008
Cash prize for council that hit adoption targets

Hammersmith and Fulham council, in west London, was paid £500,000 as a reward for placing more than 100 children for adoption in three years. The council is the first to acknowledge publicly a payout under the target scheme. It said that its social workers had "pulled out all the stops" and "cut down on the amount of bureaucracy" to boost the numbers.

The council announced its success in a press release headed "Adoption target met". Its disclosure appeared to contradict the claims of Kevin Brennan, the children's minister, who seemed to deny the existence of adoption targets when he said earlier this year: "The only national adoption targets, which ended in 2006, were on the number of adoptions of children who were already in care and waiting to be placed for adoption, and on the speeding up of this. There was never a financial incentive for local authorities to meet these national targets."

White baby girls: Telegraph 20 Jan 2008

Critics claim that financial incentives encourage social services departments to target children who can easily be placed in adoptive homes, rather than those at the greatest risk. White baby girls with no health problems are in highest demand.

EDM 626:
Babies 'removed to meet targets' - In an Early Day Motion, with cross-party support from 12 MPs, Lib Dem MP John Hemming, warns of "increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted".
Hemming, John
“That this House notes that local authorities and their staff are incentivised to ensure that children are adopted; is concerned about increasing numbers of babies being taken into care, not for the safety of the infant, but because they are easy to get adopted; and calls urgently for effective scrutiny of care proceedings to stop this from happening.”

"......Peggy Hilt wanted to be a good mother. But day after day, she got out of bed feeling like a failure. No matter what she tried, she couldn't connect with Nina, the 2-year old girl she'd adopted from Russia as an infant. 

"......Then Hilt did something unthinkable. She grabbed Nina around the neck, shook her and then dropped her to the floor, where she kicked her repeatedly before dragging her up to her room, punching her as they went. 'I had never hit a child before,' she says. 'I felt horrible and promised myself that this would never happen again.' But it was too late for that. Nina woke up with a fever, and then started vomiting. The next day she stopped breathing. By the time the ambulance got the child to the hospital, she was dead."

1,600 children were adopted by Americans last year. Russian children are the third most popular among US citizens seeking to adopt after Chinese and Guatemalans.

 (10% discount until 30th April 2010, by quoting “SHOWERS”)

No comments: