A new family law case has highlighted the need for transparency within adoption, including a stark warning that decisions to terminate adoptions must be set down formally.
Prospective adopters charged with taking care of two sisters, who subsequently sent an email to the local authority to ‘Please come and get the girls’ because they could ‘no longer continue’, have been told by a family court judge that they cannot now ask for one of the girls to be returned to their care.
Mr Justice Mostyn also chastised the local authority for failing to tell the prospective adopters that the placement had been revoked upon receipt of their email.
In the judgment, published on 21 October, Mostyn J said, “Were this situation to arise again in the future it would be better that the decision to terminate the placement should be explicitly set out in a fully reasoned letter rather than being made tacitly. That is my judgment.”
The recommendation is a clear warning to social work teams across the country to ensure that decisions to terminate adoptions are set down and recorded, explicitly.
The case involved two sisters, G, aged nine, and M, aged seven.
G, who was self-harming and clearly traumatised, was attacking her sister M, who was being physically and emotionally harmed by the attacks.
The prospective adopters were unable to cope with the girls, and handed them back to the local authority after sending an email, which read: “Please come and get the girls. And wherever you place them I beg you separate M from G. We are no longer able to continue.”
That email amounted to a legal notice to terminate the adoption and as an adoption order had not been made yet, the local authority still had parental responsibility for the girls and in so doing were able to terminate the placement, and any adoption plans.
The adopters, who wanted to keep M, but not troublesome G, tried to get M back. The council refused the request, but not before separating M and G and placing them in different foster homes, as suggested by the prospective adopters.
This is an important element of the case, which suggests that the council decided to separate the girls rather than provide them with support, after realising potential carers would be put off by the high level of care the girls would need to receive. In short, separation promised faster placements, and less cost.
There are many more concerning aspects of this case:
- Why don’t we have legislation to address this all-too-common scenario?
- Were the children deeply traumatised and suffering before the placement and if so, why didn’t the local authority tell the prospective adopters?
- Where was the emotional and clinical support for the children in this process?
- What efforts if any have been made to reunite these siblings, safely?
- Adoption breakdown contradicts the “forever family” narrative, spun by councils and politicians, highlighting a growing phenomenon called adoption disruption
- What measures have this council put in place to ensure this kind of breakdown does not happen again?
LexisNexis provides an excellent, and more sophisticated summary of this case, if you have access to it, while the judgment itself can be accessed for free on BAILII.
Let us know your thoughts.
- Disrupted Adoptions – What Councils Don’t Want You To Know (2020)
- Judge slams ‘outstanding’ council for breaches of law and guidance in ‘biased’ adoption application (2020)
- When adoption without parental consent breaches human rights (2013)
[Name Withheld] said:
Social Services are Heartless Liars and Corrupt They Hate Loving Happy Families with Happy Loved and Wanted Children but Destroy Our Families Yet They love Cruel Heartless people who ill treat Children and Won’t Do anything at all It upsets me and Breaks My Heart They would rather use Forced Adoption and Make Money out of it This is True From a Loving Dad but Heartbroken Still
I am incredibly sorry.
This is heart breaking for these children. What emotional and psychological message is being relayed to these children by their first removal and now being told that the ‘new mommy and daddy’ don’t want them either. I say either as that is what these children will be feeling and thinking without knowing or fully understanding the realities of the situation, which for all intense and purposes is not very much better. How is any of this in the child’s ‘best interest’? Has no one considered that the eldest child may be highly traumatised from care and adoption process already? Did anyone care to listen to her and care to help?
We get so many emails from adoptees expressing their pain of being bartered around the system. Their stories are harrowing and it’s time the courts spent time with some of those who are willing to speak out and really listen to them.
They speak of having zero support or guidance in a world that even the professionals struggle to meander. Most, if not all, have spoken of lack of support for their bio parents to help keep the family stable. They feel like products bartered and traded with until they are considered ‘past their sale by date’, whereby they then find themselves even more isolated and abandoned. Has everyone forgotten that these minors are actual human beings, with feelings and emotions and are someone’s children? Why is the system only concerned for it’s own welfare? This is not about transparency but about humanity and doing what is right, not what is perceived to be right.
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Too much fantasy re adoption week. I agree they’re not always forever homes. But the reality is these children are growing up suffering with severe mental health problems that can last a life time and that’s even when they’ve experienced a more successful Placement. My child is currently awaiting CBT therapy and has been diagnosed with 2 different things so far and has been to hell and not came back yet.
Truth is, they can be and are self harming way before they go back home to their real blood parents then mh services can ensure they’re taken in a flash then when the young poorly adult is easy to manipulate. Not even Family Court can quite work that fast.
That’s concerning what’s deemed a more successful Placement where the child/young adult can be poorly and suffer for the rest of their life.
One can only imagine the emotional and physcological irreversible damage been caused to these children and all the others concerning adoption placement breakdown.
Adoption week may as well be portrayed as receiving a child or more wrapped up in a box in a bow with wrapping paper galore. Are adopters sending these children back the same way because it makes me wonder as much as I doubt it.
Isn’t it about time the childrens best interests into adulthood was considered thoroughly and kinship care overrode adoption altogether instead except in cases where children are orphaned because the future generations are only going to end up impaired which I find awfully sad and wholly unacceptable where children should be put first. Xxxx
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Ian Josephs said:
:- Fostering and adoption agencies make millions of £s in profits . “Special” schools (for children who run away from “care” or who are difficult )charge local authorities 3-4000£/week which is more than 3 times the fees required at Eton.
MONEY MADE FROM FORCED ADOPTION MISERY ! What price was YOUR child??
Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies
Inter-agency fee levels and guidance
Inter-agency fee levels 2020-21 – for introduction from 1 April 2020
The inter-agency fee levels from 1 April 2020 – 31 March 2021 are as follows:
Number of children Fee level
For 1 child £32,063
For 2 children £51,714
For 3 children £70,331
For 4 children £80,674
For 5 or more children To be negotiated on an ongoing basis
Ongoing supervision per child £889
An additional weighting of 10% applies for agencies based in the Greater London.
2020. This is defined by the date that the child(ren) move in with the prospective adopters.
Ian Josephs said:
A spate of mergers and acquisitions among foster care firms, typified by last year’s £400m tie-up between the National Fostering Agency and rival Acorn, has fuelled concern about IFAs.
Andy Elvin, chief executive of fostering and adoption charity TACT, warned that consolidation would reduce competition.
“We are moving towards some de facto monopolies or potential cartels of private IFA supply,” he said. “As companies get bigger and have more power over local authorities, they hold more of the supply. This can lead to costs being increased to local authorities, because they need the placements.”
The merger between Acorn and NFA created a vast fostering company owned by private equity group Stirling Square Capital Partners (SSCP).
Analysis by the Guardian of accounts filed at Companies House reveals that the firm uses a corporate structure that transfers money to a parent company in Luxembourg. SSCP owns the firms via subsidiary SSCP Spring Topco, which had annual revenues of £104m but lost £21m after hefty interest payments on loans. This included an interest payment on a £62.5m loan from the Luxembourg parent company. Interest payments have the effect of reducing a company’s taxable profit.
The accounts also show that SSCP Spring Topco’s highest-paid director took home £319,345 for the year. The Guardian has contacted Stirling Square for comment about whether the loan structure generates a tax benefit.
Two other companies in the sector, Orange Grove Fostercare and Partnerships in Children’s Services (PICS), are owned by private equity group Sovereign Capital. Labyrinthine accounts for the Orange Grove group show that a parent company, Boston Holdo B, paid investors a dividend of £1.7m last year and took investor loans of £5.4m, paying an interest rate of 14%.
Sister company PICS paid £2.2m interest on borrowings including £14m of loans from investors, some of whom were company directors. The highest paid director took home £200,000, including pension contributions.