Mummy stuff

Who would you choose for me?

Being partly adopted, as a child I often wondered how life had turned out had my mother left me with my grandparents. Had I been the one to choose, I am sure my childhood would have turned out less wounding.

Certainly, foster parents do a great job in a huge number of cases. But if there are family to do that job instead, whom would you choose?

In the UK, approximately 25,000 grandparents over the age of 65 raise 30,000 grandchildren, saving an estimated £1.4 billion each year in foster care bills. Approximately 200,000 family and friends care in the UK raising 300,000 children. Rates of breakdown in adoption placements can range from 10-50%, depending on the age and needs of the child. Older children, tend to be harder to place for adoption.


  1. I didn’t have a close relationship with my grandparents (I only had one set left) so I can’t imagine what it would have been liked living with them.

    I do think family would be best and I would chose family members for my daughter. In fact, my husband and I are in the process of chosing her guardians/godparents at the moment and boy is it tough. We can see advantages and disadvantages in every person, as well as the geographical distances – our families are spread over the continent.

  2. Interesting topic, I think for me if I had to leave my kids there are some friends I’d choose over some family. But overall I would prefer family either way.

    Coming from an African background, family ties are much looser and wider so I know many of my cousins etc who were partially raised by grandparents, aunts etc and my own parents were called ‘Mum’ and ‘Dad’ by so many not even blood related. It’s a different way of life.

    Interestingly, my mum adopted a little girl (not family) in her late 60s, so I have a 6 year old sister back in Nigeria. There are some weird restrictions on age and adoption in the UK, at least when it’s formal, but informally I think many grandparents could make (and have made) excellent carers.

  3. A very interesting question that I could talk about for hours! All I can say is it depends!
    In most cases, I would say family. Family is nearly always preferable. But what if the grandparents are too old, too frail, not capable? Foster parents do a marvellous job I think – it is the adoption process that needs overhauling. If anything happened to me, I would want my younger sister to have my children.

    Without going into massive detail, my mum was given up for adoption at the age of 3 1/2 – 4. When I look at my daughter who is that age, I find it hard to understand. Her grandmother would have dearly loved to have had her – in fact she was mostly bringing her up – but the papers were signed without her knowledge and it was too late. I know my mother wonders a lot how things would have been different if she’d stayed in the family. Adoptions don’t always work out. Bit of an emotive topic for me this one – as it sounds like it is for you xx

  4. My childhood was not particularly functional either and yes maybe my grandparents would have done a better job. Generally speaking it is impossible to say family or foster parents are best, each case is different. Here in USA they usually try and keep the child with the mother and the child goes out to foster parents every time the mum goes off the rails and then goes back to the mum when she is deemed ‘fit’ and generally I think that doesn’t work too well, the mother is usually completely unfit to parent, drug abuse etc and by then the child may be damaged beyond repair. I guess sometimes adoption is the best option.

  5. that is an interesting/good question to think about. i think you just have to get to know people and go with your instinct. there is no easy answer to this…

  6. I adored my maternal Grandparents, I wish I’d known them longer but they were older parents so they in their early seventies when I was born. Still being older they could tell me war stories and Grandma was a real Victorian and that was all very exciting. Grandparents are such a great force on a child’s life even if it’s in a more casual way than actually taking over parenting. On the other hand though I think perhaps it’s people who want the best for a child who are best for it- so whether that’s a God parent/ guardian, great friend, foster parent, adoptive parents, it’s about caring properly isn’t it, more than blood ties I think.

  7. My grandparents were so much older I didn’t really know them as a child, we only visited a couple of time a year. What a harrowing video and I’m so sad to hear about your childhood. Are you saying that you would have chosen grandparents over your foster family? I thought they would always choose family over a foster family so this is interesting to find out they don’t always. I often think about who would look after the kids if both of us went but there are no easy answers as our parents are both getting older…

  8. I would be inclined to keep a child in the family. It’s a difficult but important thing to consider. You remind me that we need to sort out our will. And I’m pleased for you, remembering a past blog post, that you have still managed to keep a firm relationship with your grandma

  9. It’s really interesting to see all the reactions to our video on your blog post. Thanks very much for helping to publicise the problem of families being torn apart when children are adopted unnecessarily.

    Jody Brett Kelly rightly says that local authorities in the UK are supposed to try to place a child with the wider family where possible. However, our research has found that in some cases grandparents who want to raise their grandchildren are prevented from doing this because of age discrimination.

    Other grandparents are afraid of getting support from social services because they fear their grandchild will be taken away. Many grandparents we speak to have had to shell out thousands of pounds on legal costs to prevent their children being adopted.

    Grandparents Plus is a charity set up to champion the wider family who care for children. We have a network of nearly 2,000 grandparents and other family members who are raising children and can’t live with their parents.

    Please back our Keep Families TOgether campaign to give more support to grandparent carers and to place children with them when not possible.

  10. Really emotive video. I’d like to think I’d choose the grandparents, and that they would be the best choice. Difficult though. But there’s a grandma at our school who is about 7 years old than me, and I’m a mum of a 5yo! -HMx

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