7. The children
'It appeared to be a positive experience for the children as they got to play with children in a similar situation to themselves and they all seemed to enjoy it.'
Comment from prospective adopter.
'I do think the majority of children did enjoy the event. One child from our authority struggled towards the end as a result of his additional needs and perhaps this should be taken into account on the future.'
Comment from social worker for a child.
7.1 The children ranged in age from 18 months to nine years old. Some were there with their brother or sister, some were on their own. All came with their foster carers. Although it would have been helpful to be able to hear directly the views of the children, this would not have been appropriate given the potential for unsettling or worrying them. Also many were too young to fully understand the process.
7.2 The children had all been prepared by their social workers and foster carers for the event. Appropriate to their age and stage they had some knowledge that although they were attending a party, the party was a special one concerned with their possible future family.
7.3 On the day most of the children joined in the activities and were willing at different levels to engage with the adults. Some stayed close to their foster carers, others set off the play with the cars, paints etc. Two young boys appeared to relate little to the adults and tended to wander about at times looking at little lost. There was quite a high degree of noise and it could be they were unsettled/ troubled by this. Their carers and social workers engaged with them and made sure they were alright. One little boy became very distressed and his carer was provided with a quiet space and toys away from the bigger group.
7.4 The feedback from foster carers about the impact on the children has been varied. One foster carer was very concerned at how an older child had reacted. The carer thought that the event had brought home to her that she was going to be expected to move from the foster home and whilst she may have been told this, the event clarified it for her.
7.5 Some younger children were reported to have enjoyed the day but were very tired on return. On the whole it was the older children predictably for whom the event had most meaning. One child paid considerable attention to one family of prospective adopters and her carer was concerned that she had 'claimed' them without perhaps realising that any future interest in her would have to come from them.
7.6 Some foster carers expressed the view that the events were not suitable for older children and there was risk the child felt they were being 'checked out' and if it did not result in a placement they had 'failed'. However another foster carer wondered if attending gave the child a better sense of involvement in the process.
7.7 As this feedback suggests the children found the experience and party like atmosphere enjoyable, the activities were intended for their respective age ranges. Whether it did more than this is difficult to know. One of the issues discussed at the activity day steering group was power, does the child have any? Do they feel powerless in the adoption process? Could taking part in a day like this give them a better sense of involvement?
7.8 The research study by the University of Bristol team asked young people now in their late teens what they thought about being adopted and what advice they would give today. The findings were as follows;
'Thinking back to when they first moved into their adoptive home, young people talked about not understanding what was happening and not being asked if they wanted to be adopted.' 
7.9 At the conclusion of the study the young people were asked if there were any other points that they would want to make and the included the following;
'Young people not being listened to and not being believed. This was in relation to children not having a voice in adoption and the young people thought that any child over four years should have to agree to adoption.'