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Adoption: better choices for our children

Published: 29 Jun 2005
Part of:
Children and families, Communities and third sector
ISBN:
0 7559 4486 0

The report of the Adoption Policy Review Group makes 107 recommendations to improve the legal framework for adoption and permanence.

225 page PDF

2.3MB

225 page PDF

2.3MB

Contents
Adoption: better choices for our children
Page 13

225 page PDF

2.3MB

Annex A: Consultation with children and young people:

Having your say about adoption and fostering Final Report October 2004

Save the Children
Scotland Programme
Haymarket House
8 Clifton Terrace
Edinburgh
EH12 5DR

Contents

Acknowledgements

Executive Summary

1 Introduction

2 Consultation approach
2.1 Getting in touch with young people
2.2 The young people who were consulted

3 Findings
3.1 On adoption and foster care
- Living with a family
- Living with other children / siblings
- Feeling safe
- School and leisure time
- Having people to talk to
- Making decisions
- Keeping in touch with friends
- Religion
- Contact with birth families
- The future
- Possessions that matter
- Restrictions because of bad behaviour
- Relationships with social work
3.2 On adoption
- Matching
- Consent for adoption
- Being adopted
- Birth families
- Support
3.3 On foster care and adoption
3.4 Decisions about where to live
3.5 Children's panel and court
3.6 What young people thought about the consultation

4 Conclusions

Acknowledgements

Save the Children would like to thank all the young people who took part in the consultation.

We are also grateful to the people working directly with young people in the local authorities and adoption and fostering agencies for encouraging and supporting the young people.

The development of the questionnaire was supported by a sub-group of people from the Adoption Policy Review Group. The Scottish Executive distributed the questionnaire. Thank you to all those who contributed.

Executive Summary Consultation with children and young people: Having your say about adoption and fostering

The Scottish Executive convened the Adoption Policy Review Group in 2001 to look at the role of adoption as a means of securing permanence for looked after children in Scotland. The Review has been carried out in two phases. Phase 1 concluded in June 2002 and considered practice issues relating to adoption. The focus of phase 2 has been to review the law in Scotland on fostering and adoption. As part of the second phase of the Review, Save the Children was commissioned by the Scottish Executive to consult with children and young people on their experiences of fostering and adoption.

The consultation

One hundred and four young people took part in the consultation. All the young people completed a questionnaire about their experiences of foster care and adoption and 14 young people took part in follow-up interviews.

Sixty-five were female and 39 were male. The age range was from 7 years to 21 years. Sixty-six young people were under 16 years, 31 were over 16 and 7 young people did not give their age. Ten young people identified that they had a health condition or disability.

At the time of the consultation, 56 young people were living in foster care, 29 with adoptive parents, 9 in a residential school or unit, 6 in their own tenancy or supported lodgings, 3 with birth parents, one with friends and one with other family members.

One hundred of the young people who were consulted had lived in foster care. Thirty-five of the young people were adopted. Some young people had experience of other arrangements such as living in residential care or independent living.

Findings

Living with a family: All of the young people who were adopted and 76 of young people who had lived in foster care indicated that they liked living in a family situation and felt part of the family. The relationships between young people and their adoptive parents or foster carers were important. This provided a basis for dealing with everyday situations as well as long-term security.

Living with other children / siblings: Twenty-nine young people who were adopted and 66 young people who had lived in foster care said that they liked living with other children. Being involved in decisions about their siblings and about other children who they live with was important.

Feeling safe: All of the young people who were adopted and 82 of the young people who had lived in foster care identified that they felt safe. Living in a safe environment and the relationships they have with their adoptive or foster families enabled young people to feel safe.

School and leisure time: Thirty-three of the young people who were adopted and 71 who had lived in foster care identified that they could go to a school which they liked, and the majority said that they could do hobbies that they enjoyed. A number of young people who had lived in foster care identified the difficulty of having to move school or interruptions to the school day from having to attend meetings, for example, the children's panel.

Having people to talk to: Almost all young people who were adopted and 80 young people who had lived in foster care identified that they had people who they can talk to. Having someone to speak to was important for many young people. This was often their main carer(s). Having a person who they felt they could trust and speak to outside of their adoptive or foster family was also important.

Making decisions: Thirty-two young people who were adopted and 76 who had lived in foster care identified that they are involved in decisions about themselves. The majority of young people felt it was important to be involved in decisions about their lives.

Keeping in touch with friends: All the young people who were adopted and 75 of the young people who had lived in foster care felt that they could keep in touch with their friends. Friendship was identified by a number of young people as important. For young people who had lived in foster care regular moves, having to attend meetings in school time, and having to get police checks to stay overnight with a friend were identified as problematic.

Religion: Twenty-three young people who were adopted and 37 who had lived in foster care felt that they could practise their religion. Nine young people had had difficulties in going to their usual place of worship when living in foster care.

Contact with birth families: Twenty-one young people who were adopted and 62 young people who had lived in foster care identified that they feel happy with the contact they had with their birth families. Contact with birth families was an important issue for young people throughout the consultation. The complex nature of this was evident in young people's accounts. The process of agreeing contact arrangements and their involvement in this was important to young people.

The future: Thirty young people who were adopted and 72 young people who had lived in foster care felt positive about their future. Young people spoke about the importance of their relationships with their adoptive parents or their foster carers in providing this security. For young people in foster care this became more precarious as their placement came to an end. A number of young people identified continuing relationships with their carers after they had moved to live independently and the importance of this to them.

Possessions that matter: Twenty-three young people who had lived in foster care had lost things that matter to them. Young people found this particularly difficult when they were from people who were important to them. They felt that there should be more support to hold on to family belongings, for example, birth certificates. A number of young people spoke of the importance of their pets to them and how difficult they had found it when they had been placed away from them.

Restrictions because of bad behaviour: Several young people highlighted the importance of carers understanding the circumstances they had experienced and the implications that this had for their behaviour. They highlighted how important it is to be treated and understood as individuals.

Relationships with social work: From young people's accounts it was clear that social work and relationships with social workers play an important part in shaping young people's experiences. Having to get permission from people other than their current carers for certain activities was highlighted by young people who had lived in foster care throughout the consultation. This was particularly the case for staying over with friends but also included permission to get hair cut and do certain sports. Delays in getting this permission made this even more problematic. A number of young people felt that their foster carers were best placed to make these decisions. Relationships with social workers were of importance to young people and vital in ensuring that they were involved in decisions about their lives.

On adoption

Matching: The importance of providing young people with a supportive and stable environment within which they can explore their identity was evident in young people's accounts.

Consent for adoption: Young people were in agreement about the importance of being involved in any decisions about their adoption.

Being adopted: Many young people had been adopted in their early years and could not recall the processes which had taken place.

Birth families: Young people who were adopted were asked what information they thought was important to know about their birth families. Knowledge relating to their birth families was important to the majority of young people. A number of young people identified the importance of others in providing this information and in helping them to make sense of it.

Young people were asked about contact with their birth families. Twenty-four young people thought that they should be able to contact their birth family.

Eighteen thought their birth family should be able to contact them. Young people were asked who should make the first contact approach. Nineteen said the birth family members, but only if the young person has said yes. Fourteen said the young person should make first contact and 11 young people said the birth family member. Seventeen young people, around half of the young people who were adopted, knew how to make contact with their birth family if they wanted to or when they were able to.

Support: Young people highlighted the importance of effective support. For many young people their adoptive parents were an important source of support. Other people known to the young person were also identified as important. Support needs identified by young people were often very individual and required specific knowledge about their circumstances. As such, information sources such as magazines and the internet were seen as less helpful.

On foster care and adoption: The majority of young people were clear that there were differences between foster care and adoption. A number had clearly reflected on their own experiences of this in their responses. The key factors which young people highlighted were relationships with adoptive or foster families, with birth families and with outside agencies and how these relate to each other.

Decisions about where to live: The majority of young people felt that it is important that they are involved in decisions about where they will live. They had experienced this to greater and lesser degrees. Young people identified a number of people who they had discussed options with, and often when they had been living in foster care. As such, foster carers had an important role, as did social workers.

Children's panel and court: Seventy-eight of the young people had attended children's panels and 22 had attended court. The reasons for their attendance were not explored in the consultation. Young people did however provide accounts of their experiences and whether they had felt that they had been listened to. The importance of being involved in decisions was highlighted in a number of areas of the consultation. The complexity of enabling young people to participate in decisions about their lives was also highlighted in young people's accounts.

What young people thought about the consultation: Eleven young people provided comments about the consultation process. Five young people commented about how it is important to seek the views and experiences of young people with direct experience of foster care and adoption and thought that the tools had been effective in doing this.

Section 1: Introduction

The Scottish Executive convened the Adoption Policy Review Group in 2001 to look at the role of adoption as a means of securing permanence for looked after children in Scotland. The Review has being carried out in two phases. Phase 1 concluded in June 2002 and considered practice issues relating to adoption. The focus of phase 2 has been to review the law in Scotland on fostering and adoption. As part of the second phase of the Review, Save the Children was commissioned by the Scottish Executive to consult with children and young people on their experiences of fostering and adoption.

Who Cares? Scotland has also carried out work to consult young people. A report of this is included in the Adoption Policy Review Phase 1 Report. A face to face survey was carried out to explore whether young people's views had been sought, when being looked after, about the possibility of adoption. It also provides anecdotal information about young children's experiences of adoption.

Section 2: Consultation approach

Save the Children, together with a sub-group of the Adoption Policy Review Group, developed a questionnaire to consult with young people on their experiences of adoption and fostering. The sub-group identified issues relevant to the current Adoption Policy Review to be included in the questionnaire.

The aim of the questionnaire was to include these issues and to ensure that young people were given the opportunity to express their opinion about the different aspects of their experiences as young people who were adopted or who had lived in foster care. Eight young people were involved in the development of the questionnaire. They were asked about the appropriateness and clarity of the questions. Young people also gave their opinions on the design of the questionnaire.

It was recognised that a questionnaire would limit the opportunities to explore the complexities of young people's experiences and the context of their responses. To address this, the questionnaire was supplemented with follow-up interviews.

2.1 Getting in touch with young people

The questionnaire was distributed by the Scottish Executive to contacts in each local authority area and to a range of fostering and adoption agencies. A covering letter was sent to provide further information about the consultation and to ask the contacts for their support. They were asked to arrange to meet with young people in their area to discuss the consultation and the opportunities to contribute. Young people could choose to complete the questionnaire independently, to complete it with support from a relevant person, or to meet with a worker from Save the Children.

2.2 The young people who were consulted

One hundred and four questionnaires were completed and returned to Save the Children. 1 Fifty of the questionnaires were completed with the support of a worker or other person. Fourteen young people took part in follow up interviews as well as completing a questionnaire.

More young women took part than young men. Of the total participants, 65 were female and 39 were male. The age range was from 7 years to 21 years. Sixty-six young people were under 16 years, 31 were over 16. Ten young people identified that they had a health condition or disability. Of those who took part in the follow-up interviews, 10 were female and 4 were male. The youngest was 7 and the oldest was 21.

Fifty-six young people were living in foster care, 29 with adoptive parents, 9 in a residential school or unit, 6 in their own tenancy or supported lodgings, 3 with birth parents, one with friends and one with other family members.

One hundred of the young people stated that they had experience of foster care. This was all but 4 of the young people who were consulted. All the young people who took part in follow up interviews had lived in foster care. Four were currently living in foster care and 3 had been living in foster care and were now living independently. Young people had been in one or more than one placement and for varying lengths of time from a few days to a number of years. Information was not routinely collected on this in the questionnaire. A number of young people did however indicate in their responses that they had been in a number of placements.

Thirty-five young people stated that they were adopted. Seven young people who took part in follow-up interviews were adopted and currently living with their adoptive parents. One young person was adopted and currently living in foster care.

Section 3: Findings

This report provides an overview of young people's experiences and opinions based on their responses to structured questions and the issues which young people independently highlighted. It is probable that, amongst other factors, the age at which young people were adopted or lived in foster care was influential in their subsequent experiences. As such, further useful insights could be gained from an analysis of young people's individual experiences.

3.1 On adoption and foster care

This section explores young people's experience of adoption and foster care as it impacts on their relationships and the different settings in which they live.

Living with a family

All of the young people who were adopted and 76 of young people who had lived in foster care indicated that they liked living in a family situation. Young people spoke about the experiences, which had enabled them to feel part of their adoptive or foster families. Support was an important factor for a number of young people. As one boy describes:

... they are a good support to me ...and we have a lot of fun... when I have homework and stuff my Mum and Dad are just so helpful. (Boy, 10 years)

A number of young people commented on feeling loved and how this gave them a sense of security with their family. One young man in long-term foster care described how his carers had stuck by him despite his behaviour being difficult. This had shaped his positive relationship with his carers.

A number of young people highlighted that, although in some placements they had felt cared for, this differed from the experience of really bonding with a carer or carers. As one young woman describes:

I found something special with (my carer) compared to the other foster carers ... (Young woman, 21 years)

This had been a short-term placement, which the young woman had left when she was 12 years old. She had then gone on to several other placements where she had always found it difficult to settle. She is still in contact with the foster carer whom she described as having bonded with the most and spoke about their relationship:

...we still have our fall outs. But we will still speak to each other again ... We have our ups and downs, but she is still there for me ...I love her to bits. (Young woman, 21 years)

Being able to do activities with their families was important. One boy spoke about how he got support from his carers when he needed it, had great fun with them and was able to do a range of activities which he enjoyed such as camping and going to McDonalds.

One young person who was adopted had recently spent some time in short-term foster care. She had found this a positive experience. Her relationships with her adoptive family however had been the defining factor in her decision to return home:

I missed people, my Mum and my family. (Young woman, 14 years)

A number of young people spoke of foster placements where they had not felt part of the family or where the experience had not been so positive:

One night I was breaking my heart and I wanted my Mum. (The foster carer) came in and turned the bedroom light off and told me to shut up, I was not getting my Mum... I was just excluded from everything. (Young woman, 17 years)

A number of young people who had lived in foster care felt it was difficult to truly feel part of the family:

When you are fostered you never feel 100% part of that family, there are always things that make you different, that set you apart from them (Young woman, 17 years)

One young person had been adopted but the adoption broke down after 3 years. As a result of his experience he felt that foster care was better for him:

...I lived with adoptive parents for 3 years then they changed their mind. Thank goodness for my foster carers, they love me. (Boy, 11 years)

Two young people highlighted their desire to be at home with their birth family and as a consequence disliking being in foster care.

Three young people referred to people's motives to provide foster care and thought it imperative that this is guided by concern for the young person:

My first placement was terrible ... my foster parents fostered because it made them look good in the eyes of the community. My second placement was great as those foster parents fostered out of love. (Young woman, 21 years)

For the majority of young people living with a family was seen as a positive experience. The relationships between young people and their adoptive parents or foster carers were important. This provided a basis for dealing with everyday situations as well as long-term security.

Living with other children / siblings

Twenty-nine young people who were adopted and 66 young people who had lived in foster care said that they like living with other children. One girl, who is adopted, spoke about why it was important to her to live with other children:

... then you learn to be friendly, because otherwise, life would be quiet. Mum and Dad would be like, 'Hi', and you would go off and watch TV (Girl, 11 years)

Four of the young people who were interviewed had been adopted with birth siblings and thought this was important. Two of the young people had other siblings who lived with their birth mother. They felt it was important to have knowledge of this and had recently made moves to find out more about them.

Two young people had been adopted separately from their siblings. One young woman described how she found this difficult:

(my) brother and sister are together ... they should have taken me as well ...they should have thought about how I would feel when I was older (Young woman, 14 years)

One young person in foster care spoke about the lonely experience she felt it could be if a child is not with his or her siblings:

... in foster care, if you are not with your brothers and sisters you are on your own. Unless you are lucky, like I was with (one particular carer), they do not really know you and you do not know them. They are just giving you a roof over your head and feeding you. (Young woman, 21 years)

Living with other children became problematic however when it meant that space and privacy within the home was limited:

Children should not be crammed into the house. There were 8 of us living in a 4 bedroom house. It was too small. No privacy, or time to think. (Young woman, 15 years)

This was particularly the case for children living in foster care. Two young people referred to the importance of being involved in decisions about other young people coming to the same foster family:

I think we should have a say in whether other young people come to stay in your foster placement. (Girl, 11 years)

Two young people identified that because of their personal circumstances living without other children was better.

The majority of young people identified that they like living with other children. Being involved in decisions about their siblings and about other children who they live with was important.

Feeling safe

All of the young people who were adopted and 82 of the young people who had lived in foster care identified that they felt safe.

Two young girls highlighted the measures their adoptive parents took to ensure an environment where they felt safe. This related to every day things such as providing healthy foods, ensuring that they have their seatbelts on in the car and making sure that their bath water is not too deep.

Other young people also spoke about safety as an important feature of their family life. This was often referred to in relation to having people around them who they knew would keep them safe:

Being here, and my Mum and Dad and stuff and friends and people like that (helps me feel safe) (Young woman, 14 years)

Similarly, for one young woman safety was ensured by having people around her whom she knew would be there for her. She differentiated these people from others who had not:

I feel more safe when I am with my (adoptive) Mum (than when in foster care)

Right - and why do you think that is?

Well, because she is my Mum, she is the only person who has been there for me. (Young woman, aged 14 years)

One young woman living in foster care identified that living with other children who are also in foster care made her feel unsafe.

Safety was an important feature for young people. This was enabled through the environment where they live and the relationships they have with their adoptive or foster families.

School and leisure time

Thirty-three of the young people who were adopted and 71 who had lived in foster care identified that they could go to a school, which they liked, and the majority said that they could do hobbies that they enjoyed.

Young people who had lived in foster care were asked an additional question about if they had ever had difficulties in relation to a number of areas of their lives, for example, going to school.

Fifteen young people identified that they had had difficulty with going to their school. A number of young people spoke about how they did not like their school day to be interrupted with meetings as they enjoyed school. One young woman spoke about the negative impact that interruptions had had for her schooling. This had resulted through having to move placements and time lost from attending meetings such as the children's panel. For this young woman she felt that there had been an impact on her learning and on her friendships. For another young woman going to a residential unit rather than foster care would have meant moving school. It was important to her that this did not happen. This was an important factor in her decision to stay in foster care.

Fourteen young people identified difficulties in taking part in their usual groups and hobbies. One young woman had had to move away from her home area when she moved into foster care. This meant that she had left a number of groups that she attended. She spoke about how she had been in a position to take up the same hobbies again later when she moved back to her home area. By this time her peers had progressed through the different stages of the organisation. She returned briefly but felt out of place and decided against returning full time.

Twelve young people identified difficulties in doing their usual pastimes, like watching television, using computers and listening to music.

The majority of young people identified that they could go to a school which they liked and do hobbies which they enjoyed. Young people did however identify times when this had been problematic. This was particularly the case when they had had to move foster placements or attend meetings in the school day.

Having people to talk to

Almost all young people who were adopted and 80 young people who had lived in foster care identified that they had people who they can talk to.

Young people identified why this is important and the factors which contribute to someone being a good person to speak to. One young woman, who is adopted, highlighted the importance of trust and having someone to help to understand about being adopted:

... it is really important to have people to talk to. (it is important) to have someone to break it up (information about her birth family) and to help you understand. (Young woman, 14 years)

For one young person, being in a short term foster care had given her the opportunity to talk to other people which she had found valuable:

... just somebody else rather than your Mum to talk about stuff. I dinnae find it hard to talk to my Mum about stuff, I just like talking to other people. (Young woman, 14 years)

One young woman spoke about the importance of having a person other than her foster carer:

(Children's Rights Officer) has been really, really supportive, she has worked with me since 16 ... I have got my foster Mum, but we are really close and sometimes you need someone else to talk to. (Young woman, 21 years)

A number of young people also expressed the importance of carers understanding the often difficult circumstances which they had experienced.

Having someone to speak to was important to young people. For a number of young people this was often their main carer. Having a person who they felt they could trust and speak to outside of their adoptive or foster family was also important.

Making decisions

Thirty-two young people who were adopted and 76 young people who had lived in foster care identified that they are involved in decisions about themselves.

One young man who lived in long-term foster care felt strongly that young people should be involved in deciding whether they should be adopted. He highlighted that it is a complex decision and that it has implications for later life if they are not involved or fully understanding of the situation:

I really think that children should have some sort of say. Even if they are quite young ... Let them have ... some kind of responsibility for the rest of their lives... you are... taking away from their lives if they do not want to be adopted and they realise that later in their lives. (Young man, 17 years)

Young people also provided information about their involvement in decisions about where they live. Further information is provided in section 3.4.

Keeping in touch with friends

Keeping in touch with friends was important to young people. A number of young people identified the importance of friendships. All of the young people who were adopted and many of the young people who had lived in foster care felt that they could keep in touch with their friends. In an additional question asked about foster care, 34 young people identified that they had had difficulties at times in keeping in touch with friends.

For one young woman living in long-term foster care being able to do similar activities as her friends was important:

I like living here because I can do all the things that I really want to do like go out with my friends, do most of the things that my friends do. (Young woman, 17 years)

Maintaining friendships was often difficult, particularly for those living in foster care. One young person highlighted the difficulty of not having telephone numbers to keep in touch with friends. This situation is more problematic when not living locally to friends or seeing them on a daily basis at school:

I do not have some of my friends' numbers and so can not keep in touch. (Female, 9 years)

A number of young people spoke about the importance of having friends who could empathise with their own situation.

A contentious and frequently highlighted issue throughout the consultation was getting permission to stay overnight with friends whilst in foster care. Fifty-three young people highlighted this in their questionnaire responses. Young people described about how they found it upsetting, difficult, restrictive and stigmatising. A number of young people identified the impact which it had on their friendships and their childhood experience:

I would just be going about with my friends and they would ask me stay over. I would go home and ask and it would be like, 'Well, not really, has that person had a police check?' ...It is really hard when you are wee. It kind of takes away from your childhood. (Young man, 17 years)

One young woman talked about how she would often avoid the situation rather than have to ask that police checks be undertaken. She described how she found it embarrassing to have to ask friends to do this. Another young woman highlighted a time when police checks had been carried out for the family of a friend. In the time this had taken her friendships had changed and she no longer wanted to stay over with this same friend.

Three young people highlighted how they thought that foster carers should be able to decide if young people are able to stay at a friend's house overnight:

If the carers know and trust them ... then I think they should be allowed to let them (the young person in their care) stay (overnight at a friend's house) ... (Young woman, 17 years)

Friendship was identified by a number of young people as important. The majority of young people were able to keep in touch with their friends. Feeling different from friends was difficult for young people. Having to get police checks to stay overnight with a friend was identified as problematic.

Religion

Twenty-three young people who were adopted and 37 who had lived in foster care felt that they could practise their religion. Sixty young people did not answer this question, with some making later comments that this was because they did not have a religion or it was not important to them. Nine young people had had difficulties in going to their usual place of worship when living in foster care.

Contact with birth families

Twenty-one young people who were adopted and 62 young people who had lived in foster care identified that they feel happy with the contact they had with their birth families. Responding to an additional question, 22 young people identified that they were not happy with the contact they had with their birth families when living in foster care. The complex nature of contact was highlighted in young people's responses.

Thirty-one young people later identified issues about contact in their questionnaire responses. They spoke about disliking going on visits to see birth parents, wanting more or not wanting contact with birth parents. This young person who was very positive about her experience of adoption commented:

I am very happy with my family and I have good contact with all of my birth family 4 times a year. (Young woman, 14 years)

Another however had stopped contact with her birth parents because she felt unsafe and felt that it complicated her circumstances:

I do not go to see my birth parents I stopped it because I was scared and I thought it complicated things because I only want to be with my adoptive parents now. (Young woman, 12 years)

A number of young people spoke about the difficulty of not having contact with adopted siblings. One young woman felt that her foster care arrangements had allowed her to maintain good contact with her birth family including two siblings in foster care. She found her contact with a brother who is adopted more problematic:

... when my brother was adopted it was agreed that we were to see him twice a year. (Now)... we are only getting to see him once a year and this year we have not seen him at all. (Young woman, 17 years)

A number of young people felt that they should be involved in decisions about their brothers and sisters and that, when appropriate, more efforts should be made to place larger families of children together.

They spoke about some of the difficulties of contact such as making an effort to maintain it but continually being put down by a birth parent, feeling pressure to see birth parents, and about birth parents changing or cancelling contact. This young woman spoke of the pressure young people can feel to have contact with their birth families:

Please accept that if young people do not want contact with their birth parents then they do not have to! We should not be put under pressure to do this. (Young woman, 13 years)

Two young people commented about issues relating to growing up as a young person who has been adopted. They expressed feeling frustrated and confused and wondering what it would have been like to live with their birth families.

One young man, in long term foster care, described how his arrangements had worked well:

I have been really lucky. The family who I have gone to live with have been excellent ...There has not really been any issue about not being adopted. I mean I have got two families now. It has really worked in my advantage in that I have two sets of parents and things, I really feel that it has worked well for me. (Young man, 17 years)

For him, being able to negotiate his contact on his terms had been important.

He felt positive about the contact he has with his birth family and the process to achieve this.

Another young woman who is adopted spoke about how she had had a sense of enquiry about her birth family when she was younger. As she has grown older though this had lessened as she has related increasingly to her life with her adoptive family:

When I was younger I had issues with where I came from and where I belonged. I am completely happy with my situation now though. My adoptive parents are my parents: they are the ones who have been with me through the ups and downs. (Young woman, 17 years)

Another young woman, who is adopted, found it difficult that she had so little knowledge of her birth family. Her siblings, who were also adopted, all had life story books and she found it difficult that she was the only one of her siblings who did not. Three other young people also referred to the importance of their life story books. One young person who had been in a high number of foster placements had three books of information which one of her foster carers, while in her early teens, had put together for her and which she treasured.

Contact with birth families was an important issue for young people throughout the consultation. The complex nature of this was evident in young people's accounts. How contact arrangements were come by and their involvement in this was important to young people.

The future

Thirty young people who were adopted and 72 of the young people who had lived in foster care felt positive about their future. A number of young people did not answer this question. A number of the young people who took part in the follow-up interviews often found this a difficult question to answer.

For many young people, feeling happy about their future was dependent on having a secure relationship with their adoptive parents or current carers. A number of young people spoke about the continuing importance of these relationships once they were living independently.

A number highlighted the difficulty of moving from foster placements before they felt ready to and the implications that this may have for them:

I am just going into college ... I am thinking, 'Oh no', I am wanting them (the funders) to see me through until I am finished college and I can make myself money ... rather than kick me out just now and I am struggling with college and then it will be a total mess (Young woman, 17 years)

One young man who is 15 years old and currently living in foster care spoke about his concerns about planning for independent living in the near future:

I do not know much about my future ... I am quite scared about all this talk of independent living as I am only 15 (Young man, 15 years)

A number of young people spoke about having to move foster placements regularly and the implications that this had had on their security for the future.

Many young people felt happy about their future. This was often based on having secure relationships with their adoptive parents or their foster carers. For young people in foster care this became more precarious as their placement came to an end. A number of young people identified the importance of continuing relationships with their adoptive parents or foster carers once they were living independently.

Possessions that matter

Twenty-three young people who had lived in foster care identified that they had lost things that matter to them. Twenty-two had had problems with not having things with them whilst in foster care, like toys or pets. Twenty-one also commented on having difficulty with getting pocket money.

One young woman living in foster care spoke about how she had constantly lost possessions due to moving so regularly:

I lost a lot of stuff in foster care, which was not great ... That is why everything that I have got in my own house has so much value and means something to me, because I had nothing when I was little... (Young woman, 21 years)

Young people commented on losing possessions, which had been bought by people important to them. They also felt that there should be more support to hold on to family belongings, for example, birth certificates. A number of young people spoke of the importance of their pets to them and how difficult they had found it when they had been placed away from them.

Restrictions because of bad behaviour

Five young people commented in questionnaire responses about restrictions which had been placed on them because of their behaviour. They identified getting grounded, not getting pocket money when grounded, and not getting things when they misbehaved. One young person commented on getting smacked.

One young man spoke about his behaviour when he first went into foster care:

... I was just an angry wee boy and I would take it out on people ... Like in school the slightest thing would set me off ... I would just kick off at a teacher or something ... I do not know where all that rage came from. (Young man, 17 years)

This had resulted in him not going in to foster care placements or in them being shorter than planned. He spoke about opportunities he was given to improve his behaviour but how for a young person in his circumstances this had meant very little:

I was given various chances to try and improve things, but I did not really take that seriously. These were people that were (just) coming into my life. (Young man, 17 years)

Several young people highlighted the importance of carers understanding the circumstances they had experienced and the implications that this had for their behaviour. They highlighted how important it is to be treated and understood as individuals.

Relationships with social work

Five young people living in foster care commented on their relationships with social workers. This included not having seen their social worker for a number of months, feeling that they had not got help and that they had not been listened to, and concerns about contact with their birth families. Two young girls who were adopted highlighted the importance of their social worker and saw her as an important person in their lives.

One young person felt that often he had contact with social workers on a routine basis, but it was not as supportive as it could be as it was not always when he really felt he needed it. Another young person referred to the need for training on issues faced by young people in care and of the importance of treating them as individuals.

A number of young people felt that input from social workers was often driven by fulfilling obligations for statutory meetings rather than by their individual needs:

I do not particularly like having reviews ... I just feel that the social work must have better things to do. I do not know if they have to do them by law until I'm 18 or something... I do not feel like I am in a placement, I feel like I am in a family and have done for many years... I do not really feel there is any need for social work involvement, especially when it is not needed for anything. (Young man, 17 years)

The same young man, in long-term foster care, spoke about his relationship with his social worker. He felt that issues he raised were often made into bigger issues than they were to him. He identified a number of alternative people in his social network who played an important part in dealing with any difficulties:

My social worker ...I feel that if I say anything he will blow it out of proportion. That is okay though, I have got other people I can speak to, I have got the family and stuff. (Young man, 17 years)

From young people's accounts it was clear that social work and relationships with social workers play an important part in shaping young people's experiences. Having to get permission from people other than their current carers for certain activities was highlighted by young people who had lived in foster care throughout the consultation and was seen as problematic. This was particularly the case for staying over with friends, as previously discussed, but also included permission to get hair cut and do certain sports. Delays in getting this permission made this even more difficult. A number of young people felt that their foster carers were best placed to make these decisions. Relationships were of importance to young people and vital in ensuring that they were involved in decisions about their lives.

3.2 On adoption

This section reports on issues relating to adoption and the adoption process on which the Adoption Policy Review sub-group were keen to seek young people's opinions. Young people who have been adopted were asked to complete questions in this section of the questionnaire. A number of young people living in foster care also shared their opinions.

Matching

Young people were asked what they thought was important when matching children with adoptive parents. Twenty-nine young people said that they think it is important to make sure that brothers and sisters are kept together. Young people's involvement in decisions relating to their siblings was a recurrent issue throughout the consultation.

Twenty-nine said that they think it is important adoptive parents speak the same first language. One young woman identified this as a pre-requisite to feeling part of the family.

Fifteen young people said that they think it is important that adoptive parents are married, whilst 28 said that they think it is okay for unmarried couples to adopt children. This was reflected in one young woman's response:

Any couples would be good adoptive parents as long as they can give the child a secure home and ...surroundings. (Young woman, 13 years)

For one young person who is adopted having parents in a stable relationship was important. She felt that this was more likely if they were married:

... I would not want to go to an unmarried couple ... it is going to be harder if they split up than if you have always been with the one person. (Young woman,14 years)

Twenty-four young people said that they think it is okay for single people to adopt children. One young woman felt that having access to sufficient support was the most important pre-requisite for people who adopt:

... single people should be allowed to adopt as long as they have got enough ... support ... (Young woman, 17 years)

Fifteen said that they think it is okay for same-sex couples to adopt children, 13 thought it was not okay, and 7 young people chose the response 'do not know'. A number of young people reflected on the possibility of young people experiencing discrimination and the impact of this:

For same sex, it would be wrong to place a child who ... is self conscious. Bullying would also have to be thought of. (Young woman,17 years)

Nine young people said that they think it is important that adoptive parents have other children. In relation to this, one young woman highlighted:

The adoptive parents' children need to be able to accept the adopted child. (Young woman, 17 years)

Thirteen young people said it was important that they have the same religion. Nine said that they think it is important that adoptive parents are from the same ethnic group. For one young woman who was adopted taking care to think about issues which have implications for understanding her identity was important:

I do not think it should make a difference (being from a different ethnic group), but I think it would ... I think I would be thinking more about my identity if I was than I am now. (Young woman, 14 years)

Two young girls highlighted that for them it is important to be able to learn about their backgrounds. They thought that this would be difficult if you were adopted into a family with a different religion from their birth family.

One young man highlighted:

It should not be too restricted. It does not have to be the archetypal family. The important things are consistency and them sticking by you ... (Young man, 17 years)

The importance of providing young people with a supportive and stable environment within which they can explore their identity was evident in young people's accounts. When young people verbalised their responses it appeared that they had identified with options that they felt were more likely to secure this.

Consent for adoption

The Adoption Policy Review Group sub-group, was keen to gauge young people's opinions on the current age of consent for adoption. Young people were asked how old young people should be to give consent to be adopted. Thirteen thought it should be younger than the current age of consent which is 12 or over, 11 young people thought it should stay as it is, and 2 thought it should be older than 12.

In responding to this question a number of young people reflected on their own experience of developing an understanding of adoption. They highlighted the dissonance between being told that they were adopted and actually understanding what this meant in the context of their own lives:

I did not actually know what adopted was. That sounds really stupid, but I had just been told that my Mum and Dad could not look after me, and so I had had to come and live with these people. (Young woman, age 14 years)

A number of young people felt that 12 is a reasonable age to give consent, but this did not deflect from the importance of ensuring that younger people fully understood the implications of adoption and this was taken into consideration in the decision.

One young man spoke about when he had found out that he had been freed for adoption:

I only found out a few years ago ... I was put up for adoption. That was my legal status. I was not really too pleased ... I did not really get any choice ... (Young man, 17 years)

Young people were in agreement about the importance of being involved in any decisions about their adoption. Young people who were adopted outlined the difficulties of understanding about this.

Being adopted

Young people were asked what they thought about the amount of time which was taken for their adoption to take place. Twelve young people thought the time taken had been too long. Ten young people thought it was just right. No young people thought it was not long enough. A number of young people were unable to comment on this because it had happened when they were very young.

Young people were asked about the amount of information they were given about their adoption. Seventeen thought they had been given enough information, 12 did not remember and 4 thought that they had not been given enough. No young people thought they were given more information than they had wanted. Six young people commented that they would have liked more information. This related mainly to more information about their birth families such as their age, appearance, personality, career, and about their extended families.

One young person commented that because he had been young at the time of his adoption he felt he had not been provided with information. One young person who had experienced an adoption breaking down posed the question:

What happens if they do not want me just like my birth family? (Boy, 11 years)

Many young people could not remember the time that had been taken for their adoption or the implications that this might have had. A small number however did reflect on information that they would have found useful since their adoption.

Information about birth families

Young people who were adopted were asked what information they thought was important to know about their birth families. Thirty thought it was important to know the medical history of their birth family. Young people identified the importance of this for prevention and understanding about conditions that affected them:

...my eyesight is not very good and my Mum and Dad did not know but then I got a medical ... from my doctor's file and it said that most of my family had eye problems ... stuff like that, that is useful. (Young woman,14 years)

Twenty-nine young people thought it was important to know who other family members are, and 23 what other family members look like.

Six young people made further comments about information they would find useful. For example, why their birth family could not look after them, how their birth family are getting on, if they are nice, where their siblings live, where other family live, and about where they had lived, where they were born, their weight and the time they were born.

Young people were asked about contact with their birth families. Twenty-four young people thought that they should be able to contact their birth family.

Eighteen thought their birth family should be able to contact them.

Young people were asked who should make the first contact approach.

Nineteen said the birth family members, but only if the young person has said yes. Fourteen said the young person should make first contact. Eleven young people said the birth family member.

Several young people identified that it was important that their birth families made the first contact as they would want to know that their birth families wanted to have contact:

I think they should do it, it should not be the younger one that has to. I would like to, but I would like to think that my Mum would like to. (Young woman, 14 years)

One young woman felt it was important to have a mechanism where it could be identified that each party had given their consent to contact being made:

... it would be weird making the first approach ... it would also be strange someone from my birth family making contact with me. I think the last one (a question about who should make the first contact) is both ways round, birth family or the young person, but only if the birth family and the young person have said it is okay. (Young woman, 14 years)

Two girls identified that they like to find out what is happening with their birth family. They were keen to know about their siblings and emphasised the fact that they were their family and this was why it was important to them. They felt strongly that should they want to make contact with birth family members, they would want to do it with the support of their adoptive parents and with the knowledge that their birth family also wanted to be in contact.

One young person identified the importance for young people to know about their adoption from a young age. Being able to find out about their birth families was very important for a number of young people:

... I only started being interested in who I was 4 years ago when I got this letter from social work about all the reasons why and everything like that and then I started getting interested in my identity... (Young woman, 14 years)

One boy spoke about the importance of being provided with information about who is in his birth family as he himself has no memory of them apart from his birth parents.

Seventeen young people, around half of the young people who were adopted, knew how to make contact with their birth family if they wanted to or when they were able to.

Knowledge relating to their birth families was important to the majority of young people. A number of young people identified the importance of others in providing this information and in helping them to make sense of it. In line with previous discussion on contact it was important to young people that there is an informed approach to first contact with birth family members.

Support

The majority of young people saw support when being adopted as important. For many their responses were based on their reflections on this since being adopted. Being able to speak to someone they trust and knowing that their views are being listened to were identified as the two most important supports by young people when being adopted. Twenty-seven young people thought it was useful to be able to speak to someone you trust and 26 young people identified knowing that their views are being listened to as important.

Twenty-five young people identified being kept up to date with what is happening as important, 23 identified getting support afterwards, 17 young people thought knowing that their families were okay was important. Only 13 young people thought it was useful to have regular meetings. Three young people provided further comments. These were: knowing that they would stay clean, emphasising that support is important, knowing what will happen about visiting other family members.

Young people were asked where they would go to for help or information about being adopted. The majority of young people opted for people who they knew. Thirty-two said that they would go to their adoptive parents, 29 to their social worker, 12 to other family, 8 to friends and 5 to another person. Young people were less likely to use media sources or phone lines. Nine however did say they might use the internet, 6 saw magazines as a source of information, 4 television, 4 phone lines and 3 radio.

One young woman noted that for many years her parents had had a support worker. She highlighted that young people themselves need support independent of this as they grow older. She had since had regular meetings with an adoption counsellor which she had found useful in helping her to make sense of information about her birth family and her current circumstances which she had previously found difficult to understand.

For two girls, their social worker was a good person to speak to as were their adoptive parents and their adoptive grandparents. They had seen information about adoption on television and taken note of it but did not see this as a direct source of support. They had found attending a summer support group useful. They outlined it as having provided a range of opportunities to use arts and crafts, an opportunity to meet other young people who were adopted and a chance to discuss issues of concern to them. The same young girls commented that they did not generally speak about being adopted at school and hence would not see this as a good place to discuss issues relating to being adopted.

One young woman who was adopted, but was currently living in foster care, highlighted that she had a number of workers but at this point in time found none of them helpful. For her the most helpful form of support was other young people who had been through similar experiences. She had found being in a residential home had let her share her experiences with other young people.

One young woman identified that young people being able to spend time with their parents when first adopted is vital:

... the first day I came to stay here my Mum was not here for the first two days, because she had to work ... there was just really my Dad, and he has to work at home ... And so for the first couple of days, I was just kind of on my own. It felt scary and I felt really lonely. (Young woman, 14 years)

Young people highlighted the importance of effective support for young people who are adopted. For many young people their adoptive parents were an important source of support. Other people known to the young person were also identified as important. Support needs identified by young people were often very individual and required specific knowledge about their circumstances. As such, information sources such as magazines and the internet were seen as less helpful.

3.3 On foster care and adoption

Young people were asked if they thought there was a difference between foster care and adoption. Responses to this question highlighted the differences between the two arrangements and their impact on the different spheres of young people's lives.

Seventy-one young people thought that there was a difference between foster care and adoption, and 19 young people did not. Many young people thought that adoption provided more stability, security and was permanent. Young people felt that these factors were important in enabling close family relationships:

When adopted part of a family - somebody loves you, foster care involves moving about a lot. (Girl, 11 years, adopted)

Relationships with birth families were viewed to be crucially different between foster care and adoption:

When you're adopted you have to stay with the family ... in foster care you sometimes get to go home. (Boy, 10 years, foster care)

The involvement of social work was also seen to be greater when in foster care than when adopted. This was viewed to have implications for the relationships which young people could develop with their adoptive or foster family:

Meetings (panels, reviews) in adoption there would not be any. Be able to become a closer family without the hassle and interference of meetings and social work. (Young woman, 15 years, foster care)

For one young person adoption was seen as a choice, being in care was not:

... being adopted is part of your choice, being put in care is not. (Young woman, 16 years, foster care)

Two young women had recently had a lot of difficulties and had spent time away from their adoptive families in alternative care placements. For both however, their adoptive families were very important and they saw a number of benefits to adoption:

... obviously adoption is permanent, but it is kind of in a way, you know that it is going to be permanent. But in foster care ... you do not really fit in as much ... you know that you are not going to stay there forever, there could be other people there, there could be people coming in and out. It's not so stable. (Young woman, 14 years)

One young woman living in long-term foster care saw it as more restrictive than being adopted. She was clear however that long-term foster care had been the best choice for her. This was related to her good relationships with her foster family and her birth family.

The majority of young people were clear that there were differences between foster care and adoption. The key factors which young people highlighted were their relationships with adoptive or foster families, with birth families and with outside agencies and how these relate to each other.

3.4 Decisions about where to live

All the young people who were consulted had had to live away from their birth families for shorter or longer periods or permanently. The Adoption Policy Review Group sub-group was keen to find out about young people's experience of their involvement in this. Young people were asked about where they would have chosen to live when they first had to live away from their birth parents. Forty-seven young people said that they would have chosen to live with other family members when they first had to live away from their birth parents, 24 said with foster carers, 20 with adoptive parents and 9 with friends.

One young woman, who is adopted, commented that if asked now she would have chosen adoption. The decision however had been made when she was very young and at that time she thought that she would have been most likely to choose family members or friends. The reason she gave for this was that it had been a difficult time and family members or friends were familiar:

... I would not really have known at the time what that (adoption) was ... when I was that age I would have wanted to live with family because they are people you know. (Young woman, 14 years)

Another young man highlighted that he would similarly have chosen other family members as he would have been more assured about the contact that he would have with his birth family. He also felt that foster care and adoption were much more difficult for young people to assess in terms of what it would be like and the implications for their future.

A further two young girls said that although they had been very young when they had had to live away from their birth parents and could not remember being involved in the decision, living with their adoptive parents was their preferred choice.

Young people were asked whether they had ever talked to someone about where they would like to live and if they had, who it was, where they were living at the time, and which places were discussed. Fifty-one young people said that they had talked to someone about where they would like to live, 45 had not.

Most frequently this was with a social worker, with 31 young people identifying this. Foster carers also played an important role, with 13 young people having spoken with their carers. Other key people included children's rights officers, other family members, either birth parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles and adoptive parents. Young people also identified link workers, the children's panel, counsellors, and safeguarders.

One young man identified trust as being important in deciding who he would discuss this with. Another said that he had wanted to speak to a teacher, but did not feel comfortable in doing so. One girl who had spoken to her carers and counsellor, identified that she did not however feel able to speak to her social worker.

One young woman spoke about how it was rare for decision making about where she would live to be an involved process:

The majority of my foster placements used to go out with a bang ... I got picked up and then taken somewhere else. I was taken from my real Mum's to a foster placement, maybe be told briefly where I was going ... It was always like that. (Young woman, 21 years)

Thirty-three young people were living with foster carers at the time when they had discussed where they would like to live. A number of young people identified other times when they had discussed where they would like to live. This included when living with their birth parents, with other family members, in residential units or school, with adoptive parents and when living independently.

A number of young people felt that no options were discussed, 3 of these young people felt strongly that they had always been told where they were going to live and options had not been discussed. One young woman in foster care felt very frustrated about her situation. She felt that she had spoken to a number of people about wanting to be moved but was being deemed as awkward.

Two young people identified that they had discussed long term foster care. Seventeen identified that they had discussed foster care options, but did not specify long term foster care. Eight young people had discussed residential school or units, and 18 young people had discussed the options of living with their birth parents, with other family, or with friends. Only 2 young people had discussed adoption and 2 young people who were adopted had discussed other options. One young person had discussed the option of supported accommodation and one of living independently.

A number of young people spoke about how a permanent arrangement had never been achieved for them and the difficulties this had caused. A number described their experiences of being moved between foster care, their birth families, and other family members:

I did hear once that I was up for adoption at 4 ... It would have been nice instead of having been brought back and forward between care and my Mum ... Because of my Mum and Dad's problems, nothing was ever perfect at my Mum's house ... we were not looked after properly ... It was like a relief when I went into care, it was like, I knew that I would be looked after, that I would be fed properly. But then I would be put back home ... I think my Dad ... would make them believe that he loved his kids and could look after them, and that would be it, back and forth. Until (year) and then it came to a halt. (Young woman, 21 years)

One young woman spoke about the difficulties she had faced since moving to a residential unit:

I would not say I have had a say in it. I feel that if I had not got put into that children's home I would not have spent most of my teenage years in secure units and residential (units). (Young woman, 17 years)

Young people were asked if they felt that they were involved in deciding about where they live just now. Forty-two young people said that they had been involved a lot in the decision about where they live just now, 16 a bit, 11 very little and 30 not at all.

One young woman reflected on the time when the decision was made that she would have to live away from her birth family:

I felt that a lot of the stuff was hidden from me . I could see the hesitance when they spoke to me ... Obviously I was only 10 ... but if somebody had taken the time to sit down with me and explain to me, look this is why this decision was made, do you understand. (Young woman, 20 years)

She went on to reflect that measures were taken to protect her and to guard against her being upset. She was aware that information had been taken from her file so that she would not see it and found this difficult. She went on to say that she had learning difficulties and felt that this had unjustified implications for how people treated her.

The majority of young people felt that it is important that they are involved in decisions about where they will live. They had experienced this to greater and lesser degrees. At times young people felt that they were not involved in this and that decisions were made for them. Young people identified a number of people who they had discussed options with, and often when they had been living in foster care. As such foster carers had an important role, as did social workers.

3.5 Children's panels and court

The Adoption Policy Review Group sub-group was keen to seek views from young people on whether they had attended children's panels and court, why this had been, and whether young people felt that they had had a voice in these processes. Information was not collected on the reasons for the young person's attendance. Young people were asked if they had attended the children's panel or court and if they felt that they were listened to.

Seventy-eight young people had attended a children's panel and 51 of those young people thought that they had been listened to. A number of young people related being listened to when action had been taken which they wanted. As one young person said:

They took my opinion into consideration when I expressed my concern about the level of contact with my Mum. She wanted it increased and I did not. The panel listened to me and kept the contact the same. (Young woman, 13 years)

Also of importance were measures taken by panel members to put young people at ease and to ensure that they were given opportunities to express their opinions.

One young person identified that she had not spoken because she did not feel comfortable talking about personal issues in front of strangers:

I did not speak at the hearing because you always get different panel members and I do not like talking about my family to strangers. (Girl, 11 years)

Young people also identified a range of experiences such as feeling upset, feeling safer as a result of the outcomes, feeling that their needs had not been central to the decision made, and feeling the pressure of not wanting to hurt those close to them. As one girl describes:

... I found it hard with my birth and adoptive parents because no matter what I said it was always going to hurt one of them. (Girl, 12 years)

Young people also spoke about wanting outcomes which they later reflected on not necessarily having been in their best interests. As one young woman says:

... sometimes they did not listen to me, but ... I wanted things that was not best for me ... Now I realise and think, they did want the best for me ... I was wanting to go and stay with my Mum. But my Mum was really messed up with drugs ... (but) I hated them for it. (Young woman, 17 years)

The same young woman highlighted that many of the young people attending children's panels are feeling disenfranchised about their relationships with adults and that this has implications for how they engage with them:

... for most of the folk that go to the children's panels, a lot of their heads are messed up, and nobody can make them understand ... a lot of the time, I did not trust adults, all the trust went away, I thought, 'No, you are messing me about too much ... (Young woman, 17 years)

Young people were asked if they had attended court. Twenty-two young people had attended court. Thirteen thought that they had been listened to when they attended court. Young people identified a range of experiences. Again the approach and sincerity of the court officials had been vital in their experience of having their voices heard and a security that what they were saying was valued.

Young people were asked if they would like to attend meetings where their future is being discussed. Sixty-six said they would. As one young woman said:

... it is important that you have your say in what is going to be happening to you in your future. (Young woman, 17 years)

The importance of being involved in decisions for young people was highlighted in a number of areas of the consultation. The complexity of enabling young people to participate in decisions about their lives was also highlighted in young people's accounts.

3.6 What young people thought about the consultation

Eleven young people provided comments about the consultation process.

Five young people commented about how it is important to seek the views and experiences of young people with direct experience of foster care and adoption and thought that the tools had been effective in doing this:

I think it is good to get feedback by people who are in foster care or were adopted ... (Young woman, 20 years)

I think the questions are quite good. I think it covers the major areas that are important. (Young woman, 16 years)

One young man highlighted the importance of making sure that the consultation findings were used effectively to benefit young people. Two young people felt that the tools had limited their responses.

A number of parents also provided comments on the process through the questionnaire, via email or in face to face discussions with the Save the Children worker. One parent commented that they had found the questionnaire was limited in allowing the dynamic to be explored between the young person, their adoptive family and their birth family. Another commented that their children had been too young to remember about the actual process of adoption. She highlighted that delays in the transition for her son from his birth parents, to foster carers, to adoptive parents had caused difficulties for him. One parent commented on how she thought it was a positive exercise for young people to be consulted, although it could be difficult for their children to discuss issues which were so close to them. A number of parents commented on issues from their perspective and hoped that there would be an opportunity for these to be taken into consideration in the Adoption Policy Review.

4.0 Conclusions

This report provides an overview of young people's experiences of adoption and foster care based on their responses to structured questions and issues which young people independently highlighted in a questionnaire and in follow-up interviews. Many young people highlighted positive experiences of being adopted and living in foster care. They spoke about their relationships with adoptive parents and foster carers, birth families and outside agencies. Young people spoke about the role of relationships in enabling them to be involved in decisions and to access support when needed. A number of young people spoke about situations which they found difficult and which had a negative impact on their lives. In their accounts, young people suggest a number of policy changes which would improve their experience. A number of young people highlighted the importance of having the opportunity to participate in the Adoption Policy Review. The consultation provides a rich source of evidence about young people's experiences of adoption and foster care for consideration by the Adoption Policy Review Group in relation to the proposed policy changes.


Contact

Email: looked_after_children@gov.scot