When we adopted, just over three short years ago, our options were between a plain adoption or what was called “foster to adopt”.

This is how foster to adopt was explained to us. When a child is removed from his birth family, he is given in care to a foster family, until it is either decided that it’s safe for the child to return to his parents or until a suitable adoptive family is found.

The child could spend a considerable amount of time with the foster family, adjust to the new family life, and form new attachments. All positive steps, but this new version of normality would be disrupted once an adoptive family is found.

We were told that with foster to adopt, the foster family and adoptive family were one and the same, which made it possible to skip an unnecessary move and spare the child the additional trauma of separation from what is familiar to him.

What I learn only very recently is that today aspiring adoptive families have a third option called “concurrent planning”. Terrible name, but it makes sense once you understand what it is. With concurrent planning, Social Services work towards two possible resolution for the child, both at the same time. The first resolution would see the child returned to his birth family, while the second would conclude with the child’s adoption. While these two plans are evaluated, the child stays with carers who have been trained and approved as both foster carers and prospective adopters, avoiding the move between foster and adoptive families.

If you still didn’t grasp the difference between the two, it’s because I haven’t got to that point yet. The difference is that concurrent planning, unlike foster to adopt, can begin from day one, while the Local Authority is still working with the birth family to establish whether they are able to safely parent their child. For this reason, a prospective adopter who chooses concurrency has to deal with a much greater likelihood of the child returning to his birth family.

The option of choosing foster to adopt is still available. In fostering for adoption, a placement can take place only after the Local Authority has made the decision that the child should not be returned to his family. This was a detail that was left out when foster to adopt was explained to us. Proceedings may take some time, and in this time the child is placed with a temporary foster family. So, foster to adopt brought the benefit of reducing the number of time a child is potentially moved between foster families rather than completely avoid a permanence with one. Not what we were told.

When I first heard about concurrency planning I was unsure why it was needed. For a while, I even thought it was an effort in rebranding “foster to adopt” with a name that didn’t contain anything as frightening as “foster” in it. The reason I could not see the point of concurrent planning was that foster to adopt was never explained properly to us. Not that it would have mattered anyhow.

It feels bad to admit it now, but we never seriously considered foster to adopt as an option. We couldn’t possibly accept the risk of looking after a child, hoping for him to become our own one day, only to see him returning to his birth family and taken away from us.

It’s funny how things change sometimes. Right now we are nervously waiting for our first placement as a foster family, and will do exactly what–just over three short years ago–we thought we couldn’t do. We’ll soon look after a child, love him as every child deserve to be loved, knowing that maybe one day we will have to say goodbye to him as he will move back to his family or to his new adoptive one. But it took us time to get there.

Continue to Part 2: The priority lane to adoption.

I’m not a Social Worker or in any way an expert in adoption proceedings. Although I did my best to research the subject, the information provided in this article might be incomplete, over-simplified, or plainly wrong. Always check with your Social Worker before taking any decision.
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  1. Kate 4th November 2016 Reply
    • Laura Boccaleone 4th November 2016 Reply

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