One Adoption South Yorkshire, the regional adoption agency we are part of, has today joined the national ‘You Can Adopt’ campaign uniting regional and voluntary adoption agencies across the country to highlight the circle of support important to adopters.
The campaign comes as new research reveals that 40% of parents in Yorkshire and the Humber found support from other parents invaluable when raising their children.
The new campaign aims to reach potential parents for children from certain groups that repeatedly wait the longest to be adopted (approximately eight months longer) and sees a series of new films released featuring real-life stories from those who have adopted and fostered children, and others who have been adopted themselves. The films spotlight the various means of support available throughout the adoption journey from regional and voluntary adoption agencies, social care workers, charities, employers, friends, relatives, peers, and more.
As part of the campaign, You Can Adopt has united organisations like John Lewis and Family Fund to show their support for adopters. A podcast featuring Love Island winner and former children's social worker Sanam Harrinanan in conversation with an adopter about their adoption journey is also available.
The latest available data shows 1,980 children are waiting for adoption in England, with 990 (50%) waiting longer than 18 months since entering care.
The majority of children waiting for adoption (59%, 1,170 children) come from specific groups repeatedly facing the longest delays in finding a home. These groups include children aged five or over, children with additional and/or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from a Black and mixed heritage background. Compared to children without these characteristics, children from these groups wait an average of eight months longer from entry into care to adoption, a total of 32 months.
- Children over five wait 16 months longer to be adopted from care than children under five
- Children with a disability wait nine months longer to be adopted from care than children without a disability
- Children in sibling groups wait seven months longer to be adopted from care than single children
Black and mixed heritage children wait two months longer than average to be adopted from care, with delays caused because there are not enough Black and mixed heritage adopters coming forward to adopt children from the same background. This is why, as part of the campaign, a specialised recruitment drive will run to encourage Black and mixed heritage people to consider adoption.
To help find parents for these children, the campaign aims to encourage potential adopters by acknowledging that, while these groups of children will need additional support, the power of family and a permanent home can be transformational for these children, and support is available to help adopters on this journey.
To explore parents’ support networks and the diverse meaning of family and community for the wider public, You Can Adopt has published new research showing that support is essential for all parents – not just adopters.
The research found that in Yorkshire and the Humber:
- 83% believe community is important in raising a child
- 56% have people they refer to as family outside of immediate family or blood relatives
- 40% of parents found support from other parents invaluable when raising their child, with 24% finding help from WhatsApp groups (or similar) or online forums
- 47% of parents say their child has non-blood relatives they refer to as aunty or uncle
The You Can Adopt Support Coalition is a brand new group of charities, organisations, and employers, convened to show a widespread commitment to supporting and encouraging prospective adopters looking to adopt children that wait longest. The growing coalition includes dedicated charities such as Family Fund and Fertility Network and employers that offer a range of inclusive rights and benefits for adopters including John Lewis, which is the first employer to pledge its support.
Adoption support services are available for families and children at all different ages and stages of the adoption journey, from preparation to adopt to meeting children’s needs for the future. The Adoption Support Fund, set up by the government, can provide access to therapeutic services for children and their parents following an assessment of support needs. All adoption agencies also provide ongoing support and advice to all adoptive families they work with.
Services include advice, support groups, training, workshops, family days, and specialised therapy tailored to families' needs. Regional adoption agencies are working to enhance these services, with a strengthened offer set to launch in September later this year.
Stephanie Evans, Head of One Adoption South Yorkshire, said: “By adopting through One Adoption South Yorkshire, parents are supported throughout the whole process by highly experienced, dedicated adoption support teams. There is a comprehensive programme of pre and post-adoption training and support available throughout childhood.
“Two-thirds of the children we need to find families for need to be adopted along with their brothers and sisters; sibling groups often wait twice as long as children who need adopting on their own, so we are particularly keen to hear from people who could consider adopting more than one child. We are also keen to have a more diverse group of adopters to meet the needs of our children so we especially welcome applications from minority ethnic communities.
“Considering adoption is a huge decision for anyone. At times it is challenging, as parenthood is for everyone, but adoption is an incredibly rewarding and positive experience, and our team is always on hand to offer support and answer your questions.”
Sarah Johal, the National Adoption Strategic Lead, spoke about children who wait for the longest: “While it may take longer to find the right family for some children, every child deserves the right to a loving, stable, and permanent home, which is why You Can Adopt is encouraging anyone considering adopting siblings, older children, children with complex needs or who are from the Black Community to come forward.
“This campaign also recognises the importance of community in raising a child and highlights the variety of support available to adopters, from peer support, family days out, training sessions and workshops, and therapeutic and financial support for groups of children with those additional needs. Adoption may not always be easy, but support is available at each stage and can positively change the trajectory of a child’s life forever.”
Ian, from Doncaster and parent to Aspen, who he adopted aged 1 with his husband Darryl, added: “Our community has been invaluable throughout our adoption experience. When Aspen came into our lives, our adoption agency helped connect us with other adopters to share advice, and it was a huge support to speak to others on the same journey.
“Not only have friends and family been with us every step of the way, but my employer, Virgin Media O2, supported us as we were becoming parents and later invited me to further enhance the support available for adopters within the organisation.”
If you’ve ever considered adopting and want to find out more, please visit oneadoption.co.uk.