National Adoption Week 2018 Photo by Mike Scheid on Unsplash

This week is National Adoption Week 2021, which 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 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 East of England, nearly half (42%) believe adoption is more socially acceptable than it was 10 years ago, yet still around a third (30%) admit they find adoption a difficult topic to speak about.1

Despite the need for more to be done for the public to have a better understanding of adoption, one in five adults say they would consider adopting in the future and nearly nine in 10 believe that adopting a child would be rewarding.1 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.

Cllr Sue Clark, executive member for families, education and children, said:

“Since Central Bedfordshire Council became the joint agency, Adoption Connects, with Milton Keynes Council in 2019, we have helped 96 children find an adoptive family which is fantastic, but there are further children waiting to find their forever family, whether that be a single person, a couple who do not have children or established families.

“Within Central Bedfordshire there are groups of brothers and sisters waiting to find their family. There are also several young children who are seeking adoptive parents who will provide them with the opportunity for the best start in life to a secure future.”

A survey2 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, 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.

National Adoption Week brings some of these issues and voices to the forefront in an emotive short film (below) 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.

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.”

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 with 30% in the East of England knowing something about eligibility, applications, and the support available to adopters, 83% of adults in the East of England say they don’t have a good understanding of how to start the process.

Cllr Clark added:

“We know adoption can be daunting and want people considering adoption in Central Bedfordshire to feel comfortable and confident that they are choosing the right agency for them.

“We also want to ensure they have all the information to hand to make the decision if adoption is right for them.

“Our team of adoption professionals are friendly, approachable and non-judgmental and are holding two virtual information sessions on 11 November for those thinking about adoption, one specifically where you can hear from an adopter of siblings and ask them questions about their experiences of adoption.”

Details and bookings for the above events can be found on the Adoption Connects website, by contacting the team direct on 0300 300 8090 or by emailing enquiries@adoptionconnects.co.uk.

There are also a series of events offering insight, advice, and support to adopted adults, adopters, birth families and adoption professionals taking place from 18th October, details can be found through the national campaign website.

* Name changed to protect identity

1 – Censuswide surveyed 2,001 adults in the UK (24-28 September 2021)
2 – 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)