A national #YouCanAdopt campaign titled ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ has launched in the West Midlands to find parents for the children waiting the longest to be adopted. Adoption@Heart, the Regional Adoption Agency for the Black Country, is backing the campaign that is highlighting the need for more adopters to come forward for brother and sister groups, children aged 5 and above, children with additional needs and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.
With latest data revealing there are enough prospective adopters for most children waiting to be adopted, the campaign is focused on finding the right adopters for the groups of children that face the greatest delays in finding a home.
In the West Midlands, children from these groups represent 63% of all 300 children currently waiting to be placed with a family, according to the most recent data from the ASGLB (Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, 2021/22). Further, 140 children from these groups in the West Midlands have been waiting for 18 months or longer to be placed.
Nationally, compared to children without these characteristics:
· Children over 5 wait 13 months longer to be adopted from care
· Children with a disability wait 11 months longer
· Children in brother and sister groups wait 11 months longer
o Children from an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities) wait 3 months longer.
To reduce waiting times for these groups, the campaign showcases the many life-changing benefits of adopting these children, explores the traits parents need to be resilient adopters, and highlights the support available to adopters and adopted children – highlighting that while some children may be ‘harder to place’, they are not ‘harder to love’.
The campaign also offers additional support and information around adopting children from an ethnic minority background, as the reasons why children from this group typically wait longer are complex and different to those from other groups. As part of the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign, new data from You Can Adopt shows that 26% of people in the West Midlands would consider adopting a child.
However, showing the need for adopters to come forward specifically for groups waiting longest, the majority in the West Midlands are most open to adopting a child aged between 1 and 4 (90%); nearly 16% wouldn’t adopt a child with additional needs, (e.g., a physical/mental disability), and 16% wouldn’t adopt a brother and sister group. The survey also reveals perceptions, practical challenges, and barriers around adopting these groups.
In the West Midlands, 40% didn’t feel they had the skills to adopt a child with additional needs and 20% would feel overwhelmed by adopting a brother and sister group. Cost and lack of space at home were also concerns around adopting children from across all groups.
However, over 44% in the West Midlands said they would be more likely to consider adopting a child from one of these groups if they knew about the range of support available. The survey also showed that respondents believed the most important criteria were to be ‘patient’, ‘loving’ and ‘kind’ to give these children who wait longest a home.
Mark Owers, Chair of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group, said: “While some groups of children may be seen as ‘harder to place’, they are not harder to love.
“That’s why we’re shining a light on those children who typically wait longest to be adopted – such as brother and sister groups, older children, children of colour and children with additional needs. We urgently need to bust the myths and misconceptions that may exist around adopting these children and find parents who can give them a loving, stable, permanent home.
“Most potential adopters already have the skills and attributes they need to change the course of these children’s lives. While it might not always be easy, support is available, and adoption is so rewarding.”
Dawn Deans, Service Manager at Adoption@Heart said: “We are proud to be supporting this incredibly important campaign appealing for prospective adopters to consider the types of children that wait the longest to find a permanent home.
“We need adopters that can give older children, sibling groups, children with an ethnic minority background and children with complex needs, a safe, stable and loving home. Sadly, it is these children that wait several times longer to find a family.
“Adopters come from all walks of life and adoption is a wonderful choice for people who want to become a parent or extend their family. Being an adoptive parent can be challenging but it also brings great rewards, for example, those that adopt siblings tell us that the benefits of doing so far outweigh any challenges.
“As an adoptive parent there is a range of adoption support services and therapies available to you and your family, and we will be with you every step of the way. To anyone in the community who is considering adoption, please contact Adoption@Heart today”.
While at first people may not feel confident to adopt brothers and sisters, older children, or those with additional needs, parents of adopted children have emphasised they have many of the same everyday needs and qualities as any other child.
A new survey of adoptive parents showed more than half (55%) felt adopting had been the most meaningful, rewarding experience of their life. Further, while most adopters (57%) did not originally set out to adopt a child from one of the groups which typically waits longer, 54% said they became more open-minded to it as they moved through the process.
As part of the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign, a new touching film has been released featuring children from these groups forming an ‘expert’ interview panel, asking real adoptive parents questions about what it takes to give these children a permanent home.
Adoption@Heart is the Regional Adoption Agency for the Black Country, providing adoption services for the City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Sandwell Children’s Trust. Virtual information events take place every two weeks and are the perfect place for those who are ready to start their adoption journey or would like more information.