This week is National Adoption Week which aims to educate and inform people on the process of modern adoption today, with a rounded, honest, and inclusive portrayal of the journey.
The week will also showcase the highs and lows and champion all the voices involved in the process that are often less heard. These include 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.
To mark the week, the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group (NARSG) has released two new surveys looking at the nation’s understanding of modern adoption and exploring experiences of those personally or professionally involved. The research shows the reality of adoption in 2021 – the many benefits, the challenges, and the perception gaps still to be addressed.
In the South East, half of the people (50.76per cent) believe adoption is more socially acceptable than it was 10 years ago, yet still more than a third (36.74 per cent) admit they find adoption a difficult topic to speak about.
Despite the need for more to be done for the public to have a better understanding of adoption, 16per cent adults say they would consider adopting in the future and 85 per cent believe that adopting a child would be rewarding. In the past 10 years, 40,920 adoptions have taken place in England, the vast majority of which have been incredibly beneficial and positive to the children and families involved.
A survey of those from within the adoption community, that have either adopted or work as an agency or social worker, reveals 94per cent think adoption today still has challenges to overcome. According to those from the workforce, the main challenge is how best to acknowledge a child’s birth family, heritage, and culture, and eight in 10 (82per cent) also believe the birth mother’s experience can be overlooked.
National Adoption Week this year aims to shine a light on the real-life stories of those working directly to help provide safe and loving homes for children and acknowledge others impacted by adoption. Over two thirds (69per cent) of the adoption community believe the children’s social care workforce don’t receive enough respect for their work. A further nine in 10 (88per cent) working in the sector admit to feeling undervalued in their role, though 80per cent would still recommend their job to others.
National Adoption Week brings some of these issues and voices to the forefront in an emotive short film by illustrator and adoptive parent, Garry Parsons. The four-minute animated 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.
Incredibly positive experience
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.”
With 2,100 children currently waiting to be adopted, National Adoption Week sets out to educate people about how to adopt. Despite the fact most people are likely to be able to adopt and 36per cent in the South East know something about eligibility, applications, and the support available to adopters, 87per cent of adults in the South East say they don’t have a good understanding of how to start the process.
Further showing the need to continue educating people about adoption today, in the South East over half (60per cent) were not aware that adoption should only be considered as a last resort for children after all other options are explored.
Sarah Skinner, Head of Adoption Partnership South East, said: “I am delighted to support National Adoption Week and help to raise awareness of the whole experience from the different perspectives of all those concerned. These varied stories and knowledge will help to build a better understanding of the processes and real-life experience and provide answers to many of the questions those considering adoption may have.”
Ensuring children receive the best start in life
Cllr Josie Iles, Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, said: “We are pleased to be supporting National Adoption Week. The Adoption Partnership South East helps children find the right family for them, and streamlines the adoption process. If you, or someone you know, is interested in adoption we would encourage you to find out more. We are committed to ensuring all children in Medway receive the best start in life.”
A series of events offering insight, advice, and support to adopted adults, adopters, birth families and adoption professionals will be taking place from 18 October.