The Fostering to Adopt Enigma

Studland 2

We haven’t walked away. 13 months since embarking on our second adoption journey we are still ‘hanging on in there’.

The little blue bundle that needs a forever family is still very much in our minds, but a placement order is not quite within reach.

And so the idea of Fostering to Adopt has been mooted again. The problem is the whole concept seems to be an enigma to absolutely everyone.

Introduced last year, it is a new scheme designed to: “ensure more children are placed with their potential permanent carers on a fostering basis, while the local authority seeks a placement order from the courts”. *

In theory this is a great idea. In reality there is very little guidance in place to aid implementation and not much information or support available to the potential adopters being asked to foster. It seems each local authority is having to make it up as they go along. And it seems we are the guinea pigs for our current local authority. Slightly worrying!

Fostering to Adopt presents a major head versus heart dilemma. It is far too easy to get carried away with the romanticism of the idea and over the last few weeks we have gone through a plethora of emotions.

If we go ahead we could be a family of five in about four weeks time…but possibly not forever.

If it worked out the benefits would be immeasurable. We would gain valuable bonding time, often lost due to lengthy court proceedings.

If things don’t go to plan however, we could lose Baby Billy several weeks, months, or even years down the line, which would be heartbreaking.

Despite assurances by the local authority that sadly, there really is no-one else in his life, we can’t help but worry that a long lost birth relative will appear from nowhere. When I ask for information about Billy’s family, nothing is forthcoming. We need more than: “don’t worry it will be fine, it’s all very straightforward”. We know only too well that this isn’t true!

And in terms of practicalities it is a major gamble. To qualify for adoption leave a matching certificate is required. So unless the adoption goes through fairly quickly fostering to adopt could have long-term financial consequences for us. It is possible to take up to eight weeks unpaid leave and then qualify for adoption leave, however adoption pay is based on the last eight weeks that you have worked. Catch 22! The chances are I would end up with nothing and we would all have to live on a diet of beans on toast.

The whole thing is a huge risk, both emotionally and financially.

That is why we have decided not to pursue the idea and to hold out for adoption. It could mean that we are in this same position this time next year. But what we wanted was ‘forever’ and that is not what Fostering to Adopt is about. So for now, having made the decision, it feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders and we can concentrate on enjoying what we already have. Let’s hope that feeling lasts!

* Coram – http://www.coram.org.uk/how-we-influence-practice-and-policy/our-fostering-adoption-guidance

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2 thoughts on “The Fostering to Adopt Enigma

  1. We had a similar situation with Peanut the little sister of out two youngest. She went straight into care and we offered to foster to adopt as we ‘knew’ that circumstances hadn’t changed around mum. The LA were risk averse, so she was 20 months when we met her. It was a complex dynamic with risks and challenges but for us in our circumstances we felt they were acceptable. It is an odd feeling of connection, but without a definite one, for us it all turned out ok in the end.
    As for money with three siblings you may be eligible for an adoption allowance. There is a government calculation that some LA’s keep quiet about! see https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/42015/response/105182/attach/html/2/Means%20test%20guidance%201.doc.html
    Hoping things turn out well for you.

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