Sometimes being a prospective adopter is hard.
This evening I have spent a good part of my evening reading CPRs (Child Permanence Reports). These reports detail a child’s history (personal, family, health); the various events, records and interventions that will have taken place that led to them being in care (police involvement, school or nursery incidents, health visitor issues, domestic violence reports, A&E records – you name it); the history of their parents, siblings and other significant family members; details of any medical, attachment, emotional difficulties etc; contact plans; and a plan or possibilities for their longer term future (the ones I see as a potential adopter are usually (though not always – CPRs are not always very up-to-date) documents advocating adoption as the permanence plan of course).
I wouldn’t describe it as an enjoyable evening.
CPRs are, in my view, hard reading. Professional, careful language is used to describe situations that if you allow yourself to stop and think are simply horrifying. Tiny incidents, often seemingly almost irrelevant in themselves, nevertheless jump out at you and take your breath away. Brief comments that note (often repeatedly) that due to poor contact with a parent or unavailable records the information requested was not available remind you over and over again of the gaps in the child’s story – gaps that are often unlikely ever to be filled. A sober chronology of multiple events and incidents, often over several years, lays out all too clearly the known harm – and even more upsettingly often points to other hard circumstances that it seems were all too likely also prevalent on a frequent, even daily or routine basis, but will most likely always remain unverified and speculative.
However I also need to acknowledge that while it causes me distress, the insight I gain by reading these crucial documents into the lives of some of our most challenged children is a privilege for which I am very grateful. I hope I can honour that privilege by learning everything I can from the experience; by taking the insights I have gained and enabling them to inform my future behaviours, actions and thinking; by using the pain and the sympathy as building blocks to build my empathy and to inform my actions and behaviours; by taking the shock and anger and using it to drive hope and action.
I will honour these children and their stories. I will be the best citizen I can and fight for a better future. I will reach out and be the best support I can to others. I will be the best parent I can be to my own future child or children.