In the first part of this two parts article I tried to explain what concurrent planning is, in this second and last post I’d like to talk about what concurrent planning means.

We all agree that concurrent planning has its upsides. For a start, it brought off what foster to adopt failed to fully accomplish. With concurrent planning, children removed from their family are placed with the same people who might eventually become their adoptive parent, rather than being parked with a foster family until the grown-ups decide what it is best to do.

Is concurrency a step in a right direction, then? Maybe, for some children, it is. Truth is, the new scheme doesn’t apply to a lot of children, but only to those under the age of 2, and you need to wonder why that is.

In a way, with concurrent planning, very young children are given their own priority bus lane to adoption, complete with street sign and colour road marking. Potential adopters can still decide in which lane to travel, but for them the priority lane is a much more treacherous one, all sort of things may go wrong on the way. But if you are dead set on adopting a small child, there is not much to choose at all. And that, in itself, is the problem.

Nearly all would-be adopters know only one thing as they first approach adoption: never mind the sex, colour, religion, or disposition; they want to adopt a baby–I know that’s what we were thinking all those years ago–and concurrency promises exactly that.

As adopters learn more about the risks associated with adopting a child so young, understand the implication of undiagnosed developmental and attachment issues, many adjust their expectations, and conclude that a child at the age of 2 is still a very small child.

But when our Social Worker told us about the foster to adopt scheme, we immediately knew it wasn’t for us. I guess that, rather selfishly, we couldn’t see the benefit in taking the risk, there was nothing in it for us. Concurrent planning fixed that.

However, it takes a special kind of person to be a concurrent carer. You need to accept the ambiguity of learning how to love a child, while at the same time actively support the effort of reunifying him with his birth family. I don’t know I could have been that person when we started.

So, what option is there for a new aspiring adoptive family? They can accept the uncertainty of concurrent planning, or play it safe and consider older children, maybe age 3 or 4. There is a third choice, of course. They might conclude that adoption is simply not for them; many did even before concurrency was thrown into the mix.

That might be the reason why the scheme cannot be extended to older, or all children. It’d make finding potential adopters harder that it is already. With fewer adopting families the entire adoption machine would clog up, children would end up spending longer periods of time in foster care waiting for a family to adopt them, negating any of the benefit concurrent planning was meant to bring in.

Adoption is never what people assume it is going in. Sometimes I forget how hard it has been for me at the beginning of the process, and how close I got to giving up on the whole idea at one point. Looked after children need adopters too, and aspiring adopters could do without another barrier to entry.

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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