Being Clear About Risk.
Some agencies we know won’t conduct searches for any young people under the age of 27 because they feel that the people involved will be too vulnerable. On the whole we support and respect this view, but we have some differences. First of all, we don’t like to discriminate against anyone who comes to us and asks us to search for a birth parent or birth child. They actually have the legal right to do this, and we don’t have, as we see it, a legal right to discriminate. So, we look at each case of under 27s on its individual merits and we put an extra safety net in place to ensure that everyone is safe in this process, both subject and client. This leaflet is to tell you about some of those extra measures. This will mean that your search may take longer and so the first measure is that we have to check that you can be patient and work with us cooperatively in the search. We ask you to think from the outset whether you can tolerate a longer wait. If you feel you can – here is what we will be doing.
- We will talk to you about our expectations of how you need to conduct yourself throughout the search. We will support you all the way through with high levels of counselling, advice and input, but we need to feel confident that you can be patient, work with us and be respectful of others during this search in just as the same way as we will be respectful to you.
- We will undertake a thorough risk assessment of any vulnerabilities that may need to be taken into consideration when working with you – such as mental health or health issues. We may ask a professional to work with you throughout the search such as a social worker or professional friend.
- We will contact the original adoption agency involved in your adoption. We will not move forward without hearing from them. Some adoption agencies take a long time to respond, and we will encourage them to help you to help us as soon as possible but we cannot predict the response time. At this stage, an Adoption Agency may tell us it is not suitable to proceed. We will look at this with you and explain carefully why this is, but if we are given this instruction we cannot proceed. Whilst you will not be charged any further fee, due to the effort involved in contacting the AAA, we will not be able to return your deposit to you. You need to know this in advance.
- If it is safe to proceed to contact a subject, there are steps we will take to safeguard yourself and the subject. We will contact Head of Children’s Services in the area of the subject, and ask them if there are any ongoing safeguarding issues relating to that young person. If they tell us we can go ahead then we will, but if there are safeguarding issues we may need to stop the search there. Again, your deposit cannot be returned to you as we will have engaged in a lot of work to get this far.
- If the young person we are searching for is still in the care of adoptive parents, foster carers, or still in any kind of Local Authority care, we will have to work with those parents/carers to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the subject of the search. We will have to take a thorough risk assessment of the young person we are searching for to ensure that they are not affected by any vulnerabilities that may affect them.
- We will ask the subject of the search to accept our working contract or terms and conditions for behavior and self-management during the time we are working with them. We will ask them to respect our protocols and work with us.
- Given that all of this is progressing well we will put you in e-mail contact with the subject of your search.
- Once in e-mail contact, you can decide whether you wish to meet face to face, but we strongly advise both our clients and the subject of the search to give plenty of time to make this decision and to talk with us before moving ahead.
- If you do have face to face contact, we can support you with questions and concerns, but we need to believe you are stable and self-managing and able to conduct yourselves appropriately with a new family member. If we are not happy that this is the case, we will not be able to proceed.
- We really want to be able to help young people with their searches, but you will see that this requires a lot from them. If you feel you can sign up to all of these hurdles and work with us, we will look forward to helping you.
From the JNA Adoption Team.