Critchley A, Grant M, Cowan P & Hardy M (2018) Changes and continuities in adoption social work: reflections on the 1968 Act. Social Work Scotland. Edinburgh.
This paper charts changes in the social work role in
adoption in Scotland since 1968. Although the Act
was not intended to reform adoption practice, it has
had two major impacts. The first concerns the process
of adoption. Since the majority of adoptions in 1968
were by ‘consent’, it is unlikely that the engineers of
the Children’s Hearing system foresaw the role it would
have in securing permanence for children. As adoption
moved from ‘relinquishment’ to more complex and
contested legal routes, the Children’s Hearing began to
occupy an integral role in decision making for children
in need of care and protection. The second major
impact of the Act is in terms of the wider values of
social work. Since 1968, adoption has gradually become
understood as a resource for children who are unable
to remain within the birth family or kinship networks.
The welfarist foundations laid by the 1968 Act were
instrumental in this process.
Drawing on a combination of documentary analysis
of adoption files and interviews with key informants,
the research focused on three key points in the 50-
year period; 1968, 1988 and 2014. This revealed
increasing fragmentation of the social work role and
of adoption records, decreasing the potential for files
to be a resource for adopted individuals curious about
their origins and story. Paradoxically, over this period
there has been an increased understanding of the
identity needs of adopted people. Such unintended
consequences suggest that the social work role in
adoption remains a ‘work in progress’.
|Place of publication||Edinburgh|