Sunday 16 October 2016

Guest blog- Thoughts on National Adoption Week

By Sarah

As we approach National Adoption Week, I have been thinking about this year’s theme of #supportadoption. It’s a campaign for the twenty-first century. Adoption has been brought up to date for the digital age with celebrities, hashtags and a potential, viral social media marketing campaign. 

What are the benefits of the theme other than awareness raising? I have been wondering about the people who will post their #supportadoption placards and the stories which, they hold behind them. What is important, is that we support adoption however as an adult adoptee who is also mixed race, I know that adoption support requires so much more than a hashtag on Facebook or Twitter. I am also thinking about whether National Adoption Week holds any relevance to or meaning for me as an adult; apart from making me think about my own adoption and wondering how my experiences differ from the children who are adopted, today in 2016.

No two adoptions are the same, even within the same family. Most families aren’t always happy all of the time either however adoption has some of its own unique challenges. For a child who needs a family, adoption is not always the immediate solution with a happily ever after story. It is not as simple as sending a child home to their new adoptive family and expecting that to be that. This is especially true for children who have often come from a family that wanted very much to care for them but could not and others where there was little to no prior care at all. It would be wonderful if the solution to heal and start again was a new family but it often requires so much more than love. It requires support.

Many adoptees experience trauma, abuse or chaotic circumstances before their adoptions are finalised. That is in addition to the loss of the birth family and understanding their place and identity within the birth and adoptive family. For some adoptee’s; this comes easily and they adjust well, others might not even know for a number years that they were adopted at all and for others it is a difficult ongoing experience regardless. All of these adoptees and their adoptive parents may require support though and it is essential that we encourage and improve the availability and access.

As an adoptee I’m not sure I will ever fully understand how much it takes to raise an adoptive child unless I became one myself. From my own adoptee journey, I can tell you it was no easy feat though and it required a few years of counselling and support. Accessing the support wasn’t always easy for my parents though and that was over ten years ago. Adoptive families need ongoing help, care and support to help sustain their families and prevent a break down. Their adoptive children need this too.

Despite there being some services available to adopters/ees whilst I was growing up, research and changes have confirmed the need for additional support, primarily therapeutic. Just over a year ago in 2015 the government in England introduced the Adoption Support Fund (ASF). As of October 2016, £30m has been spent assisting families to access therapies however the unprecedented demand for support has resulted in the fund being budgeted until the next financial year. Families are being limited to the amount of funding and help they can access to help keep themselves together. What will the longer term costs to the cuts of this fund be for the families?

Back to this year’s National Adoption Week theme of #supportadoption, it appears from the ASF that it is something desperately required, however I am still not sure how this campaign will help the adopters and their children who are in need of real therapeutic support.


  1. The question about adoption as a solution raises many complex cultural, ethical, management, economic and political issues.
    We don’t have a right to have children or the right to adopt them, they are not commodities but they are vulnerable and require looking after.
    In our society we decide adoption is preferred to institutional care for the small proportion of children who are not for whatever reason being looked after at home. As a society there are many problems we manage to greater or lesser degrees of success. Social work is a political activity and social workers are mandated to act out whatever social policy is the currency. They spend a lot of time apparently navel gazing into the consequences of their actions. Of all the social work activities, adoption has been traditionally the most practice led and believe me, this lead to seismic changes in practice since its inception in 1926.
    There are 60 children who are ‘looked after’ by the state out of every 10000 and 2.4 of these are adopted –not speedily but after due process and exhaustion of options. Life for these children is not what is should be, or what it could be – it is what it is.
    Adopters have a better chance now than ever of making a difference, of not making being adopted their defining characteristic. No child being placed for adoption today needs to be ‘lost’. Being an adopter involves a lot of hard work but chances today of helping a child be more integrated as a person with a sense of identity and achievement are so much greater. Adopters and adoptees have thankfully started to claim this ground –adoption is by necessity a team activity.
    As a navel gazer and founder of the only agency to offer support till 18 and beyond, I know what life without adoption is for those ‘hard to place’ children who wait but just don’t get there destined to drift into adulthood wondering ‘why me?’ perhaps being angry, perhaps being depressed. Their relationships with their families of origin are often dysfunctional and toxic. How much better is it to enable a child to have a more integrated and understanding view of the vulnerabilities of their families of origin from the security of knowing their future is more positive.
    The recent adoption support initiatives are another seismic change in making real therapeutic support a normal expectation and right.

    1. Thank you for that comment, you clearly know your onions. From your perspective you've given an very authoritative and knowledgeable argument for adoption and I'm inclined to agree. My only caveat is that I fear the attitude, practice and parenting that adopters offer may not always assist children to make sense of their family of origin which can lead to problems. Other than that, do you want to write a guest post!