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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
We are considering concurrent planning in the future and wondering if anyone has had any experience of this? This is where children under 2 are placed with families whilst decisions are being made in the courts about whether they can be returned to their natural parents. If not, you get to adopt them, but there is the chance that they will be returned to their natural parents.

I am wondering about the emotional stress on those trying to adopt these children, if anyone has any experience of this. I'd also appreciate honest thoughts people have about adopting kids with genetic risk of having mental illness/born with drug addiction.

Thanks, Edith
 

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Edith

I'm not familiar with this, but it is very similar to fostering.  The lady who fostered my youngest does fostering on this basis i.e. has them small until its decided what will happen to them (adoption or back to birth parents).  She ended up adopting one of the children placed with her.

Good luck
Karen x
 

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When we are approved (eventually) we will be approved as foster parents as well as adoptive parents in order to do just that.  It is just what our agency do - it doesn't cost extra.

there is a good chance that if we are matched with a young child (pre 3) then we will foster it whilst the local authority gets parental rights then apply to adopt from the LA.  it means it takes longer to formally and legally adopt the child but you have it with you whilst all that happens rather than them be in a different foster home for those months.

not sure if i've got that completely right but the SW did talk about it when we had our initial visit and it will be discussed again at prep course.

magenta x
 

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I asked our SW about this as had read a little piece in a magazine or newspaper about....or somehting like that. But our LA are not keen on it. She thought that the emotional side was too much for families as you'll have bonded with the child in the hopes of keeping them forever (unlike fostering) and then they may be taken away....which I understand is what happens with the majority of kids who go into care.....they go back to their families.

Also when adopting a kid the other way they'll have been in fostercare for a while so a lot of info will be available on them. So as adopter you can be matched up as well as possible. But if they've come straight to you from their families then it's all a complete blackbox.....

I can see the appeal of it though. If it all worked out first time then they'll only have had the one move to you since leaving their families.

In relation to genetic risks and drug addiction I have no direct experience, but feel that how they are brought up after these uncontrollable issues have been set in place will dictate the outcome. Forewarned is forarmed as they say!

good luck with it all,
XXRuth.
 

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Hi, our SW asked if we wanted to try this, they called it "twin track" planning.  Because of our age and the fact we had been trying for a family so long we didn't feel that we were ready to take the risk that an adoption order might not be granted.

Whatever you decide to do, good luck.

Cindy

 

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Hi Edith,

Concurrent planning is something that is used in Brighton a lot at the moment. There is some reading and materials coming out of their social services.

The idea is that a child is placed with you 'the prospective adopter while the case is being heard in court - however you are treated as a foster carer until such time as the court has granted a full care order.

It is a very child centered approach.  It means that the child does not have to make multiple attachments at a very young age and can develop bonds with their main carer. Attachment is something that the social workers and the Guardian will harp on about a great deal and is something that is SO important in terms of the child's ability to develop a positive sense of self over the period of their life (David Howe - is very good on this subject and his books are often used by social services professionals if you want to seek any info)

As for the prospective adopter/foster carer - it can be very difficult (do not underestimate this) specifically if the child is in care under section 20 (IE voluntary care). However this can be positive too. Generally you would have to facilitate contact (IE time between the birth parents and the child). In order to care for yourself it is my view that this should not be done in your home (some social workers will ask) and that you should think about anything identifying you may be giving the birth parents (IE are you parking in the car park where they can see your number plate, thus leave your car down the road when you go into the contact center). Contact can be difficult - specifically if you find that you do not like the birth parents, do not like the manner in which they manage the child etc (and this will happen) or they simply do not turn up, however it does mean that you are able to met and form a relationship with the child's birth parents.

It is also helpful to remember that no matter how the birth parent come across, losing a child through adoption is also very difficult and most of them have not had the life chances to enable them to care appropriatly. I generally felt quite sad for the birth parents I was working with. Knowing the birth parents first hand is something that can be invaluable when the child asks you later about their birth parents. Most adopters I have worked with have only met the birth parents once or twice - but have read a lot about them from the various social workers records. It is better if you can form an opinion yourself as it is you that has to talk to the adopted child about their background in the future. 

As for the child returning to the birth family - this can happen and should not be under estimated in terms of the emotional pain. However this would be discussed with you at length during the assessment as to how you would manage this. Something to keep in mind is that it may  be that the child does not actually return to the birth parents permanently, but goes with them to an assessment unit - something used a great deal during court hearing in order to assess the birth parents long term ability to care. These are generally for 3 - 6 months, although if not successful can be much shorter. Again, from a child centered view, if this does happen and the child is returned to the birth parents - you will have given that child a wonderful opportunity - not only to be part of your family but also to ensure that they will be safely cared for by their birth parents.

Some little pointers that may help you protect yourself. Ask the s/w to ensure that there are no extend (birth) family member that are being assessed at the same time. Be very clear about having time for yourself - although you will need to be flexable (you are trying to do what is best for the child). Insist that you are only a concurrent carer and not to be used as an foster carer when social services do not have enough carers. Ask the S/W, Guardian if a Freeing Order is being made at the same time or at the time of the Adoption Order (can save time). 

Finally it is a very child centered approach, and it should be as the child is the most vulnerable in all of this. But Social workers do need to acknowledge that it is very difficult for your family as well and be sensitive to this. 

Hope that helps
M
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi,
Thanks so much for all your replies. Movingirl, this is invaluable information, really helpful - do you have experience of this or are you a social worker?

We are still mulling all our options, whilst approaching IVF in June.
Thanks - Edith
 

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hi edith,
movinggirl used to be a social worker.

I think you are very brave doing this! a private agency talked to us about doing this based on the brighton model, but after all the heartache with infertility is not something dh and I felt able to do. :'(
 

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Hi Edith,

Yes - I was and still am a qualified social worker. I was recently working in a children's team, so had to work through the process of removing a child from birth parents, the court proceedings and moving a child onto adoptive parents. Who thought I'd be on the other side ah??

I spoke to a colleague I know working with concurrent planning - as it seemed the emotive side of losing the child should they return to the birth parents is what you are most concerned about (rightly so). What I can say is that often, unfortunately, we SW's have a fairly good idea if a child is going to return home or not - specifically if the family have been known to us for a while (ie on the Child Protection Register (CPR) or as a 'child in need'(some nice SW jargon for you)). Therefore a child that on the balance of probability is most likely to be adopted, would be those placed in a concurrent placement - not those that have a possibility of going home. What I would say again tho - is that ask the children's SW to exhaust seeking extended family members for the child first. This is an area Guardian's often get stuck on and can result in the child moving later in the proceedings if it is not investigated properly at the outset.

My colleague has worked through 5 concurrent cases now (I still work with an LA that uses foster carers first) and all have resulted in the child remaining with the adoptive parents.

I really wish you all the good luck in the world - like I say, the adoptors I have met have been amazing people.

Hope that helps.
Take care
 

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Hi Edith
       
Concuurent planning is a very worthwhile thing to do & you can help not only the baby/child but the birth parents as well.

BUT it has taken me along time to think the way I do now as I have expereinced the pain of a child being returned to their birth parents.

If you'd like to know more I will happily share my thoughts with you BUT at the end of the day it is a decision you have to make! 
 

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Hi edith - im a sw and i work in child protection so i handle cases going thru court proceedings. just wanted to say that i echo the advice given by moving girl in terms of freeing orfer and ensuring that there are no extended family members whose assessments are still pending - altho they can pop up at the last minute.

my la also usually uses foster carers and the twin track planning comprises of teh usual adoption procedures re matching panel etc, 

however, i wouldn't expect a carer to facilitate contact if they were unhappy about his, and it is really important that you can manage any negative feelings towards the birth parents. and keep an open mind - hard i no when you hear some of the history or if they are letting the child down etc - the reason for this is so that the child can grow up with a positive identity.

i do sympathise with you as these are dilemnas which trained professionals ahve to deal with and sometimes struggle with - i moved to another district recently and cried after i said goodbye to some of the children on my caseload

in my authority, you would be able to access support via your s/w in the family placement team and the child will have a seperate social worker. it is my experience that the carers s/w usually ensures that the carers interests are looked after and that you are kept fully up to date with all the court and legal issues. you would also be expected to attend 'looked after children' (LAC)review meetings where you would focus upon how the child is developing and whether there are any issues of concern.

you would maybe attend planning meetings where professionals such as s/w, teacher, health visitor etc discuss how things (ie court case) are progressing and any issues regading the child's development, ehalth and education.
If under the age of 3 , the child will need to attend 2 LAC medical assessments per year.

your s/w would be expected to attend these meetings with you and provide support. you would also meet the childs guardian in the court proceedings who is his/her independent advocate of the child's best interests and you would discuss how the child is progressing in your care. 

This may seem like a lot but you should have support from your s/w & the authority or agency should have some resources for you to borrow re books, videos. does your authority or agency run training courses for foster carers, amybe this could help you to prepare yourself

finally good luck with whatever you decide to do -  i have known child born drug addicted who ahve grown up to be normal happy children, as for the genetic risk of mental illness - aren't we all at risk genetically - the child needs to be accepted for him or herself and not where they have come from-  the best bit of my job is when i see a child begin to develop and grow and enjoy life as a result of receiving stable and loving care -

i hope you get the right support to help you to make the right decison for you and your partner

Caseyxx

 

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edith - sorry about the big long post
i meant to say that in my local authority what i described above is twin track planning and i think this what your s/w is talking about, however with concurrent planning the carer also works with the parent and this where contact with birth parents and in the home  comes into it. it is usually only very experienced foster carers who do this as it can be very demanding.
check it out with your s/w
caseyx
 

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Hi Edith and Casey,

Edith - Nice to have another SW to add their view. I too cried when I left some of my little ones behind, I often think of them now and wonder how they are getting on and I too find the most rewarding aspect of this job is seeing a child develop and move forward - especially if this development has been hard fought for!!

But I checked with friend still working with concurrent planning. You do not have to have the birth parents in your home if you do not want to. Given some of the histories this could be very dangerous. On speaking to friends working with concurrent planning (they are the Children's Social Workers ( so the ones under pressuer to get the contact venues etc) and reviewing officers, not the Supervising Social Workers) none of them would recommend contact in the concurrent carers home. It brings up sorts of issues re a child feeling safe, the carers feeling safe and the birth parents being able to adjust to the child having a new mummy and daddy.

Re family members popping up at the last minute - you can ask the Children's Social Worker and the Guardian to confirm with the birth parents in writing any family members that may be a possibility at the outset of the proceedings so that should they pop up later there should be less disruption.

I do sympathise with you Edith - as Casey says, professionals in this area are trained to deal with these issues and struggle with emotionally and logistically. But then we should in some ways as we are making huge decisions that have very long lasting impact on a large number of peoples lives - not least the child.

Sorry another long posting.

Hope that alies any fears Casey. Let us know what you decide and enjoy the nice weather we are finally getting.
Movinggirl.
 

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Edith

You've been given alot of good advice regarding concurrent planning & as I have said before, I have done concurrent planning & can most probablly answer some of your questions, if you'd like me to.  Having gone through it & having a child returned I can tell you what it is like.

I will be very honest with you & say it's not something I would rush to do again as I miss that child so much & it is very hard not knowing how the child is. (I've had no contact since the child was returned to its birth parents)

I'm very lucky that I went onto adopt down the traditional route & am very happy.

I also feel I helped the birth parents get their child back but it's taken me along time to say that, as I still miss the baby that I cared for.

If you want to talk, let me know.............

Don't let me put you off, at the end of the day the decision is yours & your partners.

TFN
 
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