A new survey has revealed that a third of people in the South West find adoption difficult to talk about and 80 per cent say they don’t have a good understanding of how to start the process.
It’s worrying news for our local adoption agencies, Adopt South West and Families for Children, who need to find forever families to change their lives of nearly 60 children in the South West, as they prepare to mark National Adoption Week 2021 (18 – 24 October).
The annual event aims educate and inform people on the adoption process with a rounded, honest, and inclusive portrayal of the journey, showcasing the highs and the lows.
This year, the week is being dedicated to all the voices involved in the process that are often less heard, including adopted children, adopted adults, adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adoption and social care workforce that work tirelessly to get children into loving permanent homes.
Kath Drescher, Head of Adopt South West, said: “National Adoption Week is a great opportunity to get people talking about adoption, shine a light on the process and tell everyone about the children who wait the longest to find their adopted families.
“The majority of people adopting for the first time choose to take a single child into their family, usually a baby or toddler, but we also need people who can offer a safe, stable and loving home to siblings, children over four years old and children with additional needs. We know there can be extra challenges caring for these groups of children but it can also be really fulfilling, and we will be there with you all the way.”
Ruth Marriott, Families for Children CEO, said: “There are still so many myths surrounding adoption; specifically, around who can adopt, age and even accommodation worries. We want to raise awareness of the needs of children who wait the longest for their families, and are looking for people who have the motivation, commitment and love to be a great parent.
“We are asking people to research all aspects of adoption and the services available from those adoption agencies in Devon and Somerset. It is important that potential adopters are understand all that is involved with adoption and that they choose an agency that is right for them.
“All agencies offer strong support services to their families and children. From the early stages of the process through to finding a child and beyond, we will be there every step of the way to guide and support you. Please pick up the phone, visit a website and take those first steps to finding your family.”
Illustrator and adoptive parent, Garry Parsons, has created an emotive short animated film for National Adoption Week. The film features the life stories and real voices of six people that have had their lives changed by adoption – birth mother Anna*, single mum and adopter Sarah*, social worker Paula, 11-year-old Roman who was adopted age five, 19-year-old Tiegan who was adopted age four, and Sue who supported her daughter through the adoption process.
Tiegan, age 19, who features in the short film, said: “Being adopted has been an incredibly positive experience for me. I love my adoptive mums and I have good relationships with many birth relatives, but it is important people don’t look at adoption with rose tinted glasses. Growing up would have been much easier for me if people had a better understanding of adoption and how this shaped me as a person.”
Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said:
“Over the past 50 years, more than 400,000 children have been adopted, each with their own unique stories to tell. While adoption has been an incredibly rewarding experience for many of these children, we cannot underestimate the complexities of adoption and its historical difficulties. National Adoption Week is a chance for every single person touched by adoption to feel seen, heard, valued and understood.”
All adoption agencies hold information events across the South West to inform and discuss the process of becoming an adopter, the services they provide and the vulnerable children who are currently waiting.
If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with your local adoption agency.
Adopt South West: https://www.adoptsouthwest.org.uk (Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay)
Families for Children: https://familiesforchildren.org.uk (Devon, Exeter, Plymouth and Torbay, Cornwall, Dorset, Somerset)