A Life Less Ordinary – campaign to find adoptive parents
You Can Adopt has launched ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, a new campaign to find parents for children waiting longest to be adopted.
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 specific groups of children that face the greatest delays in finding a home.
These include children aged five or over, children with additional and/or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.
In the North West, children from these groups represent 58% of all (120) 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, 30 children from these groups in the North West 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 – 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 28% of people in Liverpool would consider adopting a child.
However, showing the need for adopters to come forward specifically for groups waiting longest, the majority in Liverpool are most open to adopting a child aged between 1 and 4 (81%); nearly 3 in 14 (18%) wouldn’t adopt a child with additional needs, (e.g., a physical/mental disability), and 1 in 14 (6.25%) wouldn’t adopt a brother and sister group.
The survey also reveals perceptions, practical challenges, and barriers around adopting these groups.
In Liverpool, 36% didn’t feel they had the skills to adopt a child with additional needs and 10 in 69 (14 %) 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 20 (50%) in Liverpool 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.
Craig Brougham, Family Finding Manager for AiM said: “Some of our children may be seen as ‘harder to place’, they are not harder to love. We want to shine a light on those children who typically wait longest to be adopted – most urgently brother and sister groups, but also older children, children of colour and children with additional needs. Most potential adopters already have the skills and attributes they need to change the future of these children’s lives. We understand it might not always be easy but support is available and adoption is so rewarding.”
Chris and Phil from Merseyside, who adopted 3 children, said: “We would tell anyone considering adopting a child with additional needs to look beyond what’s on paper – and instead see them as real children with their own unique personalities.
“You need to be realistic about your expectations of them- and instead see their development as stepping stones toward what they are able to achieve when nurtured.
“We are so happy we were able to give our children a loving home to grow and they make us proud every day”.
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.
The national survey found that 70% of the public were not aware 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, as well as 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.