How bad does post adoption support have to be before we challenge it?

Contact with the birth family…. Not an easy subject, but not exactly controversial in the UK at least, and Local Authorities routinely employ people specifically to handle arrangements for such contact. So how long should we reasonably expect to have to wait for the Local Authority to respond to a request to make contact with J’s birth family?

A day? A week? A month? Or more?

Post adoption support

We hadn’t heard from J’s birthmother, V, for five years. The last contact with her had been with J’s Guardian Ad Litem at the time of J’s adoption by me in early 2009. She was sad then, having suffered extraordinary trauma that year, by any standards. The Guardian and I both felt deeply for her. Then she had disappeared, not for the first time. V has consistently failed to maintain contact with J over the years, though I have never doubted her wish to retain some kind of contact with him.

At the beginning of this year I blogged about our desire to re-establish contact with V, which you can read here. The problem was that we had no idea where to contact her and the Local Authority would not commit any resources to looking for her.

In the end, it only took a minute or two for me to track her down using Google. The press had reported that she had been up in the Crown Court, so in front of a jury, in early January 2014. In April I called the Court and learned that she had been sentenced to eight and a half months in prison. I explained to the woman on the end of the phone what I was trying to do, and she helpfully told me that most women convicted in the Court in question went to Xxxxx Prison. I called the Prison and unsurprisingly, they weren’t able to tell me whether V was imprisoned there as I was not professionally involved.

Not much to ask then that the the Post Adoption professionals at the LA call the prison and ask whether V was indeed incarcerated there, so we had somewhere to write.

I called and emailed the Local Authority about it on 22nd April. I followed up on 30th April. I emailed again on 5th June. I heard nothing at all. Finally on 17th June I received the following email:

May I introduce myself as the Post Adoption Social Worker dealing with your request, this is a note to say hello- as I will be on leave until the 27th June. I have made a start by contacting the prison and leaving a message- however I have not heard back from the prison as yet- I will contact the prison again on my return.

What’s the betting it will be another 2 months before I hear again?

Post adoption contact is just one aspect of post adoption support, but it is an important part of it. This level of service in post adoption support is completely unacceptable. But how bad does post adoption support have to be before we challenge it?

I am linking this post up to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out #WASO week 72 which is always worth reading.



  1. This is very interesting. I guess I have never thought about have difficult it would be to track down a birth mother/family. I hope that you can get in touch! I love reading your blog!

    1. I hope so too, but I think it could go either way …. and it’s so s s s l l l o o o w w w . I am pretty sure she is out of prison now and if so, we are back to square one 😦

      1. I had read several of your blogs. I couldn’t find one that pinpointed why you guys had decided now to find her. Was it just something that needed to be done? Was the time right? Sorry to pry I am just very interested, it is a very selfless thing of you to be looking for her. It shows the love that you have for your son and that’s just amazing!

        1. Of course you’re not prying! The kind of contact we are talking about by the way is via letter and probably once a year which is what we had before. Our reasons are (in no particular order): 1. there is a bond and a shared history that J is likely to want to explore when he is older so if we can keep the communication channels open now then it will be easier for him to do this later if he chooses to. 2. J wants to stay in touch, and know a bit more about her. 3. While J’s birthmum’s actions have had a profound negative impact on his life, I understand (and maybe J does too) that much of this came about because of her own experience of being parented. 4. I met her and I liked her. 5. Her chaotic lifestyle makes it easier for us to try to keep in touch with her than the other way round. 6. Current thinking is that contact is good for adopted children and that adoptive parents should help facilitate this, where it is in the interests of the child.
          I’m doing it now because he is growing up – well into his teens – and time is running away with us. I would hate him to become an adult and think I had in any way blocked contact. I tried about three years ago with the Local Authority and didn’t pursue it when they weren’t prepared to look for her, so am having another go. Hope this answers your question!

  2. Yeah . . . par for the course, sadly. And particularly galling that when you finally do get to hear from someone, they are about to go off on leave and, of course, nobody will be covering their desk while they are away. My LA has had so many complaints about this recently that they have issued new policy stating that supervising social workers must inform foster carers when they are going on leave. Still nobody will cover their desks, but at least we’ll know that nothing is being done, rather than the mushroom syndrome we were trapped in before!

    1. I understand that people are busy but it’s the lack of professionalism that gets to me here. They don’t care a toss that I have waited two months without even an acknowledgement or an apology. I don’t suppose the impact it has on J even crosses their minds. They lost a letter from J’s birth mum once and found it two years later… I find it so shocking.
      I had to google ‘mushroom syndrome’ as I hadn’t heard it before, and I will now be using it all the time. Spot on!

  3. Single Trans Adopter · · Reply

    I’ve worked helping people do family history research (and we often had requests for helping searching for living relatives) so I know how hard it can be to find someone but social services should be better at it than it sounds like they are.

    1. I think it’s very easy for them to trace her through social security records (that’s how they’ve done it in the past when they needed to) but they choose not to. Eventually after more requests from me, they did get in touch with the prison but of course she had long gone by then. I was very fed up with them. They are now writing letters to past addresses but without success. I’m afraid they should be better at the whole process than they are.

Please feel free to comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: