The "It’s All About Me" [IAAM] social impact bond is a good example of helping prospective adoptive parents to understand a child’ needs before adoption – to prepare them for the kind of child they may be welcoming into their home and to think about the kind of supports that might be needed.
Our team contributed to this process by providing a comprehensive mental health assessment to identify the child’s needs, and also, frequently, to address some of the issues that had been raised in expert opinion in Care proceedings – these reports, used to free children for adoption are frequently of little help or relevance to the process of matching a child to appropriate carers; and in any case, they can be of highly “variable” quality. After our assessment, prospective adopters could then make informed choices about the children they were considering, some of whom may have had concerns about high levels of need. In addition, focused support from our recommendations could be offered to them from Voluntary Adoption Agencies, to help make the placement viable over the next 10 years.
For example, we saw several children with global delay [including autism, fetal alcohol, etc] and having a report which described the child as they really are [in detail rather than as a top down label], enabled families to think more openly and creatively about their ability to look after a child with complex needs – thus promoting adoption. In fact we saw three 2 year olds in a row who all had a diagnosis of fetal alcohol disorder, who exemplified this: all three were quite different individuals, with quite different needs and personalities, different levels of developmental delay – and so probably different milestones and attainments. One was ont he autism spectrum disorder, the other two did not. All three were very different two year olds, and were probably better matches for different kinds of family.
The IAAM model is no longer in operation, but we do still occasionally offer this pre-adoption service for Local Authorities who want a fresh look at children who are hard to place for adoption. Knowing as much as possible about children who are ready to be adopted empowers families to make informed decisions and helps to take some of the risk out of what can be a leap of faith.