Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 25 June 2015

​ADOPTION - a long term view​

I made a speech this week in the Commons about adoption. I did so because of the many constituents I have met over the years who have adopted a child only to find that challenges gradually emerge with which they need support which is simply not there. 

Programmes about people in their fifties and older trying to reconnect with the babies they were forced to give up in the 1960's we can give us a false impression about modern day adoption. In those days societal stigma and parental pressure combined to force many young women to give up their much loved new-born babies who had been carefully nurtured in the womb and during its first few days.

These days that can still happen but it is unusual. 

Normally, a child is removed from its natural mother after a series of incidents which might be abandonment, abuse, whether physical or mental, or violence. All of these tragic episodes involve some kind of trauma to the child and, as we are beginning to understand, that repressed pain is likely to reveal itself in later life in one form or another. Adopted parents do not ever completely know the background of a child or its DNA or full medical record. Despite all of the preparation, adoption remains a leap in the dark.

Yet it is a wonderful thing to do and the vast majority of adoptions result in a fulfilling life for all concerned. I spoke to a woman recently whose teenage daughter says to her frequently: thank you for giving me a life! 

Over the years I have seen another side when parents are at their wits end trying to cope with a child who displays mental health and behavioural problems, probably as a result of early trauma. They look for help from the system, whether social services or mental health teams and struggle to find it.

There is a case for priority treatment for families where a child has been adopted – simply because of the likelihood of problems after the impact of the early abuse. We already give looked-after children priority in accessing the school of their choice and we need to go further. 

It is a relatively small number of people and the impact on the rest of us would be minimal. But for the good-hearted people who have opened up their homes and their lives to embrace a child from outside it could make all the difference.

posted by Gary @ 09:10