Adoption agencies in Devon are working together this National Adoption Week (14-20 October) to appeal for potential adopters to come forward. This comes as numbers of adopters drop to an all-time low in the county and the number of children waiting continues to grow.
Regional Adoption Agency, Adopt South West, and independent adoption charity Families for Children are specifically looking for adopters who will consider adopting a sibling group. If adoptive families cannot be found soon then it is likely that these brothers and sisters will be separated.
Local figures published to mark National Adoption Week, suggest that 40% of the children in Devon waiting for adoptive families are brothers and sisters in groups of two. Figures from the national adoption information service show that sibling groups wait four times longer than single children to be placed with an adoptive family.
Jim Fitton, Head of Operations at Families for Children says: “The majority of people adopting for the first time choose to take a single child into their family rather than considering siblings. Also, it is often in the best interests of the children that a sibling group finds a family together rather than experience further trauma by being separated. This presents an extra challenge for social workers and these factors account for the high proportion of siblings in our region waiting for an adoptive family.”
The agencies report that across the region there seems to be a lack of potential adopters coming forward for single children let alone siblings and they are all at a loss as to why.
A factor may be that adoption agencies are still feeling the effects of the situation two years ago where there were very few children with Adoption Orders but an abundance of adopters waiting for children – but this is now not the case. They are hoping together to continue to dispel some of the myths around who can and can’t adopt and urge people to not wait in coming forward.
Kath Drescher, Adopt South West Service Manager says: “We’re asking anyone who may be considering adoption to think about whether they could parent siblings. There’s no denying that having more than one child comes with real challenges, but it also has advantages and brings great rewards and will be there to support you all the way. We welcome LGBTQ+ adopters in the south west. Research tells us that children thrive in LGBTQ+ families. We know the challenges of caring for siblings and offer strong support from when adopters very first apply, through being matched with the right child and the early days of children being placed with you, right the way through their childhood and teens.”
Both adoption agencies want potential adopters to know that:
- The adoption process can prepare you for becoming an adopter within as little as six months;
- There are children who need a new permanent families now;
- Anyone over 21 can adopt and there is no upper age limit;
- LGBTQ+ and intersex people can adopt;
- Single people can adopt;
- Adopters can be of any religion or none;
- Disabled people can adopt;
- Adopters will be fully trained before the child is placed;
- Adopters are supported throughout the process and beyond.
During National Adoption Week, there are a number of information events being held across the county to inform and discuss the process of becoming an adopter and the vulnerable children who are currently waiting.