Safe Contact: Children in Permanent Placement and Contact with their Birth Relatives

By Catherine Macaskill.
Russell House Publishing
ISBN 1 903855 09 8

By studying 106 children in 76 adoptive and long-term fostering
families, Catherine Macaskill has produced a helpful practice
guidance for all those engaged in the art of face-to-face contact
between adoptees and birth relatives. Moreover, because the
children themselves had nearly all been subject to extremes of
abuse, the study’s conclusions can be applied.

Policy and practice lessons facilitate implementation and reinforce
existing good practice, such as the need for an intermediary,
training for adopters and foster carers in contact pre-placement,
written contract agreements and an understanding that contact is a
dynamic, not a static state. Additionally, there are clear messages
for working directly with children, involving them fully before
final decisions are made. Also tackled is how often contact should
take place and the particular care one has to take where the child
had a “parenting” role within the birth family.

One small criticism: the introductory chapter has some irritating
mistakes: placing black children in white families first took place
in the 1950s and 1960s and not, as stated, in the 1970s, and only
adult, not child, adoptees are able to obtain their original birth

Jim Richards is director, Catholic Children’s Society




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