Dr Gary Clapton, a Committee Member of Birthlink, a service which connects adoptees with their birth families, said child welfare professionals’ records of birth families for adopted children were often written more like justifications for removal than a detailed history of a child’s life before their adoption.
The books are intended to hold sensitively written information about a child’s birth family, carers and their life experiences.
In an interview with The Scotsman, Dr Clapton criticised the current practice around record keeping, saying, “Often troubling is the lack of presence of the parent, or at least their side of the story. The records tend to focus solely on the child and their prospect of an adoptive family or the system requirements of a case to be made out for removal of the child from their parents – invariably the latter is an account riddled with all the instances of parental failure. In the files we read, it is difficult to discern the human presence of a parent who has lost their child.”
Dr Clapton, who is a senior lecturer at the University of Edindburgh focusing on adoption and fostering, fathers and fatherhood, children and families social work practice, and moral panics, and a Committee Member of the Fathers Network Scotland, also mentions the importance of keeping physical tokens from birth parents.
Concerns around whether or not these children are able to access tokens and keepsakes left by parents are also raised in the piece.
The article, published today, follows alarming research carried out by adoption agency Coram and The Hadley Centre at the University of Bristol in 2015 which found that Life Story work was not being prioritised by adoption professionals and that there were wide variations in the quality of the storybooks.
The national study noted that over 30% of adopters rated their children’s life storybooks as ‘terrible’, while around 40% said they were ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.
The study also uncovered the following issues:
- Many of the books were of poor quality, and often had to be ‘redone’ by their adoptive parents;
- Adoptive parents reported that the stories were often not child-centred and lacked narrative and explanation;
- Many adoptive parents also found that the level of detail in the books was inappropriate:
- Some adoptive parents said there was either too much emphasis on one part of the story, too little detail or too much unnecessary detail;
- Other concerns centered around a frustration that the books could not be updated as the children grew up.
BBC Radio 4 covered the research in their You and Yours series the year the study was published, interviewing Coram’s Director of Operations, Renuka Jeyarajah-Dent on the findings.
Jeyarajah-Dent said, “Adopted children cannot start with a blank slate. Their past is significant and should be valued. Understanding life history becomes particularly important when young people reach adolescence and develop and define their sense of self.”
Ofsted has also repeatedly criticised Life Story work, and has noted that adoption agencies who needed to improve also needed to produce better life story books. As a bare minimum, Ofsted recommended that Life Story work should represent a realistic account of a child’s circumstances and that there should be a dedicated Life Story Worker in every adoption team.
Ian Josephs said:
Fuss about nothing ! Who cares about those wretched life books?Tell the adopted kids the TRUTH not fairy stories ! These poor kids should be told as soon as they can read who their real parents are and where they live !
Brought up on lies and deception with a false birth certificatye its no wonder so many come to a bad end ……………
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Exactly what I thought, who cares!, just books full of poison and lies, it’s absolutely herendous. An insult to the already very injured children, who have already suffered so very severely, by being forcibly removed from their loving families.
It isn’t just adopted children that have life story books. Children taken into foster care have them too.
Social workers who prevent the birth family from any contact with their children tell the families they must do a life story book. They tell them it’s for the child’s benefit. What would benefit the child is contact with their family.
The social workers tell you you can send Birthday & Christmas gifts to your child but that’s a lie. They don’t get them & they don’t tell the family who believe they are still getting them. Will that go into the life story books?
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I agree, I have a friend who was asked by a SW, patronizingly in my opinion.
”Would you like me to send letters to your daughter from yourself, so that she knows that she knows you still love her”.
The nerve, my friend refused, evidently knowing that if she agreed, then there was a extremely high possibility that her daughter would never receive them, and even if she did, then they would be watererd down, or rewritten to suit the SS or the adopter.
My friend told the SW;
”No thank you ill rather tell her myself if I ever see her again”.
And the SW replied;
”Dont you think it would emotionally harming to your daughter, her knowing that you had the opportunity to write to her, but you chose not to”.
These people are despicable, and wicked people with no empathy what’s so ever. I hope and pray that one day very soon. The whole family court system can be completely reformed for the better, so that these wicked SW are not able to get away with destroying, innocent loving families.
Mara Mack said:
As a mother of such profound loss ADOPTION, I was regarded in 1965 as a TEENAGE UNMARRIED MOTHER. The mores of the day, meeted out to me and my precious baby, and millions of unmarried mothers across the world where adoption was prevalent. Was one of HARSH UNCHRISTIAN PUNISHMENT, for my baby and I, that punishment being , ADOPTION. I had brought the moral fabric of society into disrepute, by being pregnant out of wedlock, now deemed, Fallen Woman, sexually deviant, feeble minded, my baby and I were to be PUNISHED for this social crime, by being SEPARATED FOREVER. Prof of Sociology Clark E Vincent, 1950/60’s was FUNDED for this research, that brought about our demise as MOTHERS. Implemented by GOVERNMENTS and Adoption Associations,alike, ( Read this history by DIAN WLFARE in her book, ‘ SANCTIONED EVIL’ . We were HIDDEN AWAY from society, HIDDNG for OUR SIN of fornication. Like cattle, herded in, God forsaken unmarried homes, where penile servitude was the order of the day. A LEPROS situation ensued with clear demarcation lines, you crossed at your peril. SO SO UNCHRISTIAN. This sanctioned evil, has never been properly addressed, indeed the AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT, light years ahead of governments across he world, has made VAST inroads, and APOLOGISED to OUR beloved ,TAKEN, sons and daughters, and mothers and fathers of loss to adoption. The Christian churches, across the world ( where adoption is most prevalent) have made a PATHETIC attempt to-address ADOPTION. Adoption breaks biblical truth in the 10 commandments. New NAME…bearing FALSE WITNESS. Thou shalt NOT LIE, the whole concept of adoption is LIES, DECEIT. Psalm 139 states clearly who the MOTHER is. At the close of this article of Gary Clapton in Scotsman, the only way forward, is that of TRUTH. No more lies and deceits, ADOPTION is simply LIES and DECEIT’S, no more changing BIRTH CERTIFICATES. Families living with TRUTH at their heart are honourable indeed.
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Thank you for Sharing your story, Mara. I’m so sorry for your experience.