Ian Burdett, Senior Practitioner in the Community Resources Team at East Lothian Council, explains how Adoption Link helped find a family in England when no options within Scotland were identified.
East Lothian Council's usual means of family-finding includes use of the Scottish Adoption Register, as well as sharing the children's profiles with other Local Authorities and Voluntary Agencies near to us. We also attend Exchange Days, and occasionally use specialist publications- magazines and websites.
The family finding process started in earnest when our Agency Decision Maker ratified the plan for 2 siblings – aged 2 and 3 years old – to be placed for adoption, and a Permanency Order with Authority to Adopt was granted.
We were already aware that we did not have any suitable families in-house or within our consortium, and we also preferred to place the children out of the immediate area due to safety concerns. Our referral to the Scottish Adoption Register generated several initial enquiries, but these all withdrew once they heard that one of the children was significantly delayed in their development. A similar result was found when we approached the nearby Voluntary Agencies, and when we featured the children, UK wide, in a magazine.
We also had the option of hiding the children's profile, and inviting carefully selected adopters to view it
We created profiles for the children on Adoption Link which included photos, and up-to-date information about the children. We found that being able to update this information - when needed - ensured that any adopters enquiring would always have up-to-the minute information.
We started with a Scotland-wide search, allowing all adopters registered on Adoption Link to view the profile. When no link was established, we started to look at LAs in the north of England. We later extended this further afield. We also had the option of hiding the children's profile, and inviting carefully selected adopters to view it. We found that a significant number of potential links were identified, with three appearing to be particularly strong.
We settled on pursuing one link in the north of England, and used Adoption Link to establish contact with the adopters and their social worker. We then shared information both ways (this can be done securely via Adoption Link), before visiting the family at their home. We then established a formal link, and the family were able to meet the children's paediatrician, and foster carers, before the family and children were matched. The move followed soon after this, with the adopters coming up to stay in a cottage for the first week of introductions, before the focus shifted to the adopters' home.
..family-finding through Adoption Link made a huge difference in this case, ensuring the children were able to find an adoptive family within a few hours travel of their foster care placement
Both LAs liaised closely to ensure that the family and children were well supported throughout the process, and agreement was reached as to which LA would be responsible for the different aspects of support.
The children have settled extremely well. Both are now well established in their new family, and thriving. Support has been put in place to ensure that the child with the most significant additional needs is having these needs met. We expect that the Adoption Orders will be granted in the near future, with the differences in legal processes between Scotland and England presenting little difficulty to date.
..social workers and adopters can be proactive in their efforts to link children and families, and can 'target' their efforts much more effectively
We believe that family-finding through Adoption Link made a huge difference in this case, ensuring the children were able to find an adoptive family within a few hours travel of their foster care placement. We believe that the children may otherwise have needed to be placed with long-term foster carers.
One great advantage of Adoption Link is that both social workers and adopters can be proactive in their efforts to link children and families, and can 'target' their efforts much more effectively - avoiding the delay caused by waiting for responses via telephone/e-mail, or pursuing links that could be quickly ruled out if more information were available.
Would you like to showcase your successful family-finding strategies? Please contact us