National Adoption Week kicks off on Monday 18th through to Sunday 24th October
Monday 18th October 2021 marks the launch of National Adoption Week 2021. This year’s campaign aims to educate and inform people on the process of modern adoption today, with a rounded, honest, and inclusive portrayal of the journey – showcasing 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 ensure the best outcome for children in care.
To mark the week, the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group (a group of representatives from regional adoption agencies and voluntary adoption agencies whose activities are funded by the Department of Education) 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. Nearly half (48%) believe adoption is more socially acceptable than it was 10 years ago, yet still more than a third (35%) admit they find adoption a difficult topic to speak about1. Despite the need for more to be done for the public to have a better understanding of adoption, one in five (20%) adults say they would consider adopting in the future and nearly nine in 10 (86%) believe that adopting a child would be rewarding1.
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.2 A survey of those from within the adoption community, that have either adopted or work as an agency or social worker, reveals 94% think adoption today still has challenges to overcome.
According to those from the workforce surveyed, the main challenge is how best to acknowledge a child’s birth family, heritage, and culture, and eight in 10 (82%) also believe the birth mother’s experience can be overlooked by some professionals.
At Adoption Matters we ensure that all these important aspects of adoption are always considered and part of our work. A child’s birth family, heritage and culture are paramount to us in both finding the right family to meet their needs and ensuring that life work and support needs of a child now and in the future are considered. As we operate a service who support birth parents and families, their wishes and feelings are also equally important in our social work practice.
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 (69%) of the adoption community believe the children’s social care workforce don’t receive enough respect for their work. A further nine in 10 (88%) working in the sector admit to feeling undervalued in their role, though 80% would still recommend their job to others.3
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.
Adopted Adult and Adoption Matters Trustee Jamie Bennett comments: “Many years ago Adoption Matters placed me with the lovely family who made me who I am; and many years later they reconnected me with the family who completed me. I owe this charity the world so it is a pleasure to sit on the Board of Trustees and be part of National Adoption Week.”
Adoption Matters Chief Executive, Norman G. Goodwin, CBE, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group, said: “Adoption Matters have placed many thousands of children for adoption with our families in our 74+ year history. We know that this has an incredibly rewarding experience for many of these children and families, as Jamie’s comments above clearly show. However, we understand the complexities of adoption and the lives it affects. That’s why in addition to the continued support we offer to our families, children and adopted adults, we have always offered support to birth families involved historically with our agency, a service that is free of charge to those families and funded by our charity. We are proud to be part of this year’s National Adoption Week campaign that aims not only to raise awareness of the continued need for more people to consider adoption for the children waiting, but also 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, there is still a huge need for more adopters especially for the children who wait the longest; sibling groups, children over 5 years old, children with additional needs and children of a Black Caribbean or Black African heritage who wait longer in care for an adoptive family than any other children.
Despite the fact most people are likely able to adopt and 41% know something about eligibility, applications, and the support available to adopters, 80% of adults 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, over half (59%) were not aware that adoption should only be considered as a last resort for children after all other options are explored.1
To find out more about Adoption Matters support services or to download an adoption information pack, visit: www.adoptionmatters.org
* Name changed to protect identity
1 Censuswide surveyed 2,001 adults in the UK (24-28 September 2021)
2 Department for Education, 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-looked-after-children
3 Survey Monkey survey of 419 people from adoption community; 413 adopters and 71 adoption agency social workers or local authority child’s social workers (28 September – 4 October 2021)
4 ASGLB data (April 2020 – March 2021 https://coram-i.org.uk/asglb/data/