Friday 18 April 2014

Thoughts on 15,000 Kids and Counting

I thought I'd wait until all the episodes of '15,000 Kids and Counting' had aired before writing about it on the blog.

For those of you who didn't see it, the programme was about the 15,000 kids in care in the UK awaiting adoption and looking at the process of adoption. I feared it may be sensationalist but actually I thought it gave a sensitive, fair and balanced view.  

We saw the work of child protection social workers, foster careers and family finding social workers. SWs often get a bad rap but I felt this programme showed what a tough job they have and, if the Twitter feed was anything to go by, they gained a lot of respect.  I know some people feel the SW and courts sweep in, make rash decisions and take children away.  But there's always so much more to it than can be portrayed in an hour's programme.

We saw several birth parents, one or two of whom I really felt for. We often forget that birth parents have feelings too. Not all birth parents are physical abusers; some genuinely love their children but just don't have the capacity to look after them.

We saw the children waiting to be adopted and I cried a lot during episode 2 when adopters were found for seven year old Lauren who just wanted a mum who didn't smoke, drink or take drugs. Little Lauren reminds me so much of my own daughter; the look of happiness and joy and the look of fear in Lauren's face I have seen so many times with Missy.  Lauren's case highlighted that so many adopters want to adopt babies yet there are so many older adoptees out there waiting for a loving home. Older generally equates to 4+.

We saw several sets of prospective adopters at approval panel and matching panel. I felt their stress, although I would have liked a few minutes more on film showing their process on the way to approval.  I thought it brave of one adopter to admit it wasn't love she felt straight away towards her new baby and that the love would grow.

Of course what the film didn't show was what happens after placement.  Whilst for some adopters, it's a happy life ahead, for so many it's not a happy ending and attachment issues rear their ugly head. If the cameras had been at our introductions, you would have watched a happy couple with their happy new daughter.  If the cameras had come back a month later, you would have been watching me on the downward spiral of post adoption depression, us really questioning if it was the right match and Missy's negative behaviour escalate. There is another episode at least that could be made.  The programme also didn't mention the financial side, the cuts to care services in local authorities, the lack of support for so many adopters, or indeed the great support that some adopters do get.

But, look, I don't want to be negative about what I thought overall was a good programme. A lot of people in my Twitter feed expressed an interest in adoption and if only a handful of them start the process and adopt then that has to be a good thing. 14999, 14998, 14997 and counting.

Link to the programme on 4OD

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