Adoption is one of the most controversial areas of social policy. Recent policy reform and the use particularly of non- consensual adoption across the UK has prompted questions about the ethics of this increasingly politicised area of practice.
Questions have been raised for example about the impact of austerity and poverty, and the high rates of care applications – with some commentators citing this as a key example of social work becoming more risk averse and fearful of blame.
A much higher degree of consensus can be found around the importance of relationship based practice and an ethos of partnership working with birth and adoptive parents. However, the Enquiry identified concerns about the impact of fragmentation and specialisation of services in some areas (as running counter-intuitively and thus prompting a less helpful, more rational-technical approach).
An emergent concern from the Enquiry was a recognition of the ‘moral distress’ experienced by social workers.
An important and necessarily provocative read.
We are asked to consider:
- How can we ensure social workers can retain a sense of personal agency?
- How can we build cultures that support them recognising their personal responsibility for ethical practice and for challenging the barriers to ethical practice?
NIROMP welcomed the opportunity to contribute in a small way to this Enquiry. We believe it is important that the dialogue continues – that helpful conversations are built upon and we will endeavour to keep you briefed on progress of events being planned to build on discussions started.
Thanks to Professor Brigid Featherstone and Professor Anna Gupta and to BASW for this important piece of work.
Please do read the report in full and share across your networks: The role of the social worker in adoption – ethics and human rights: An Enquiry