Finding Mum & Dad: TV review - Channel 4's sensitive documentary shows that finding a family is far from child's play

 

The working title of Finding Mum & Dad (Channel 4) was "The Adoption Party". It was rejected, one presumes, on the basis that it was a touch crass. It was a more fitting title, though. This was the story of a handful of adoption activity days, an event in which prospective parents looking to adopt, mingle, play and chat with children looking for permanent families.

On the surface, it sounded like quite a murky concept. A try-before-you-buy market for kids. But as one of its organisers – Bridget – explained to us, the standard adoption procedure matches children with new parents without them even meeting. Or, as she put it: "They walk in and they're asked to be a family. And it's a big ask. I wouldn't buy a sofa from DFS online without sitting on it." Which is one way of looking at it.

We followed the story from the viewpoint of some of the children hoping to find "forever families" and a pair of adults. Connor and Daniel (aged six and four) who live with their foster carers Katy and Paddy and their teenage kids. Because they're relatively old, male and come as a package, they're proving difficult to find a home. Which, even as a casual viewer, was a heart-melter. For Katy, it was an absolute wrench. The first adoption party left her feeling as if she'd put the boys through an ordeal for no real benefit.

On the other side of the fence are James and Karen, two teachers who want to adopt. The awkwardness of the activity day was felt by them, too: "This is the first time it's felt like we were rejecting children rather than choosing them. So it was difficult," explained Karen.

The "parties" themselves – though clearly a good idea as they double the chances of kids finding adopters – looked like incredibly hard work for both adults and children. Poor social workers, like Geneve, are made to work the room like, well, sofa salespeople. "What kind of child are you looking for today?" she almost says. But if it works, well, it works.

This documentary didn't get a happy ending. Connor and Daniel's one interested party chose other children, and James and Karen didn't find any children they want to adopt. But if there is a plus – and the boys haven't already been adopted – then it's that this fine film will probably increase their chances of doing so by multitudes.

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