A Life Less Ordinary – finding families for children who wait the longest

Today, You Can Adopt has launched ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, a new campaign to find parents across Yorkshire and the Humber for children waiting longest to be adopted.

With the 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 specific groups of children that face the greatest delays in finding a home.

These include children aged five or over, children with additional or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.

In the Yorkshire and Humber region, children from these groups represent 64 per cent of all (220) 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). Furthermore, 80 children from these groups in the region have been waiting for 18 months or longer to be placed. 

Nationally, compared to children without these characteristics: 

  • Children over five 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 
  • Children from an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities) wait three 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. While some children may be ‘harder to place’, they are not ‘harder to love’.

The campaign also offers additional support and information about 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 30 per cent of people in the Yorkshire and Humber area would consider adopting a child. However, showing the need for adopters to come forward specifically for groups waiting the longest, the majority are most open to adopting a child aged between one and four (89 per cent). Nearly four in ten (39 per cent) wouldn’t adopt a child with additional needs (such as a physical or mental disability), and 38 per cent wouldn’t adopt a brother and sister group.

The survey also reveals perceptions, practical challenges, and barriers to adopting these groups. In the Yorkshire and Humber area, 44 per cent didn’t feel they had the skills to adopt a child with additional needs, and one in five (20 per cent) 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, nearly half (48 per cent) in the region 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.”

Stephanie Evans, head of One Adoption South Yorkshire, said: “Here in South Yorkshire, we are especially looking for families for children in groups of brothers and sisters and boys over four years old. We echo the sentiment that these children are no less deserving of a loving and safe, permanent home.

"It just takes one special person to open their minds and hearts to the prospect of adopting a child who would normally wait longer and really change that child’s life. 

“We offer a comprehensive support package to people who adopt with us, so you will not be on your own.

While, at first, people may not feel confident about adopting 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 per cent) felt adopting had been the most meaningful, rewarding experience of their life. Furthermore, while most adopters (57 per cent) did not originally set out to adopt a child from one of the groups which typically waits longer, 54 per cent 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:

The national survey found that 70 per cent of the public were unaware of support services available for adoptive parents. The campaign highlights the range of adoption support services available, which starts with preparation to adopt and includes support groups, training, workshops, family days and specialised therapy tailored to families’ needs.

There is also an Adoption Support Fund set up by the Government to pay for therapeutic services for adoptive children and their parents and specific support for children with disabilities, including therapies and funding for specialised equipment. Adoption agencies provide ongoing support and advice to all their adoptive families.

If you’ve ever considered adopting and want to learn more about the children who wait the longest, go to youcanadopt.co.uk/alifelessordinary.

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