In the run up to Christmas we quite often get swept up in thinking about family and friends, and the warm feeling that reminds us how loved we are. Unfortunately there are many children and teenagers who aren’t fortunate to come from loving, stable homes and are swept into a lifetime of temporary care.
Sometimes children, for whatever reason, find it difficult to be matched with a suitable adoptive family. It can be because these ‘Priority’ children have specific needs, and these tend to be the ones who wait the longest for a loving home. These children could be in a sibling group, be children from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, older children and those with complex health needs or those that are disabled.
The majority of adopted children have suffered significant abuse, violence or neglect in their birth families and most have spent time in foster care.
Adoption gives children a second chance of stability, permanence, and the love and nurture that all children need. The outcomes for adopted children are better than for those who stay in care. However, adoption is not a silver bullet. The trauma suffered in early childhood is carried with children into their adoptive families. Those families need consistent, specialist support to help them give their adopted children the best possible chance of a brighter future.
7 MISCONCEPTIONS about adopting:
1. I’m single so I can’t adopt: Single people can adopt, whatever their gender. Many single people and unmarried couples have successfully adopted children.
2. I’m too old to adopt: Adopters need to be over 21 but there is no upper age limit. Agencies will expect you to have the health and vitality to see your children through to an age of independence.
3. I can’t adopt because I’m gay: Whether you are heterosexual, lesbian or gay is not a factor in your right to adopt.
4. I work full time so I’m not allowed to adopt / I’m unemployed or too poor to adopt: Your financial circumstances and employment status will always be considered as part of an adoption assessment, but low income, being unemployed or employed do not automatically rule you out. You can be an adoptive parent while on benefits. Your local authority may provide support, especially for adopters of sibling groups or of children with a disability or special need of some kind.
5. I can’t adopt because I have a criminal record: If you have a criminal caution or conviction for offences against children or certain sexual offences against adults then you will not be able to adopt but, with the exception of these specified offences, a criminal record will not necessarily rule you out. The key is to be totally honest in your application.
6. It is a big risk to adopt a child because so many adoptions break down: Not true. The vast majority of adoptions are successful and the experience of ordinary family life gives children the opportunity to rebuild their trust in adults.
7. I can’t adopt a child from a different ethnic background: Not true. You can be matched with a child with whom you do not share the same ethnicity, provided you can meet the most important of the child’s identified needs. All families should be able to get support to help their adopted child to understand and appreciate the important cultural, religious or linguistic values of their birth community.
To learn more about adoption, visit: www.adoptionuk.org and contact your local council for further information.