It aims to educate and inform people on the process of modern adoption, with a rounded, honest, and inclusive portrayal of the journey – showcasing the highs and lows and championing 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. 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 about.
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 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, who 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 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.
Mark Tobin, Head of Service at Adoption@Heart, said: “We are proud to be supporting this year’s campaign appealing for prospective adopters to come forward and find out more adoption. Adoption gives children a second chance of stability, permanence, and the love and nurture that all children need.
“Adopters come from all walks of life and adoption is a wonderful choice for people who want to become a parent. Being an adoptive parent can be challenging but it also brings great rewards. To anyone in the community who is considering adoption, please contact Adoption@Heart today.”
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. It 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, 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 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.
Anyone can adopt, whether they are single, living together, married, a same sex couple, in employment or not working, or already have children or not. Potential adopters must legally be a UK resident and have been so for at least 12 months, as well as being aged 21 or over. They should be able to provide a stable home for a child until adulthood and beyond.
Adoption@Heart, the Regional Adoption Agency for the Black Country, providing adoption services for City of Wolverhampton Council, Walsall Council, Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council and Sandwell Children’s Trust, is currently holding virtual information events online every fortnight. They are the perfect place for those who are ready to start their adoption journey or would like more information.