Adopt Coast to Coast – the Regional Adoption Agency for Cumbria County Council, Durham County Council and Together for Children (Sunderland) has launched a new campaign encouraging the public to be more open to providing a permanent home to children who generally wait longer to meet their forever family.
The ‘Adopt a New Perspective’ campaign focuses on finding homes for children who are over 4 years old, groups of brothers and sisters, children with learning difficulties, health complications or disabilities, and children from an ethic minority.
Through the campaign, Adopt Coast to Coast is encouraging would-be adopters to be open to the needs of the children they could be potentially matched with, to learn more about the realities of parenting children from groups who tend to wait longer, and to be more aware of the ongoing support available to children and parents from adoption agencies and other organisations.
The agency has revealed that of the current prospective adopters it is working with, only a quarter (25%) of people are open to children with significant or moderate developmental delay, and only 13% would be positively willing to support a child with moderate or significant learning difficulties. Whilst only 8% are certain they would like to adopt 2 children, and just 13% indicated they would be open to being matched with a child aged over 4 years old.
Although the need is increasing, only 13% of prospective adopters say they are open to children with moderate autism, and only 15% would be open to moderate or mild Foetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). In addition, only 1 applicant said they would be able to consider a child with physical impairment or mobility impairments.
Paula Gibbons, Head of Service for Adopt Coast to Coast said
We are continuously looking for families for the children and babies in our care, and although we are supporting some wonderful prospective adopters to adopt, it is always harder to find homes for children who have additional needs and for groups of brothers and sisters. We are currently family finding for several children who have confirmed, or suspected autism or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) and we have found that this can be overwhelming to prospective adopters which means these children do tend to wait longer and sometimes their care plans are changed so they stay in long-term foster care.
Our new campaign is focused on dispelling some of the misconceptions about the children who do generally wait longer to be matched by getting advice from experts in the fields, hearing from real adopters, and reminding people that although some of the information may seem daunting, the children in our care are still just children, and ultimately, they too need a safe environment and a loving family that will help them thrive, just like any other child.”
Through its latest campaign, Adopt Coast to Coast will also remind the public that an adoption agency’s role doesn’t end when an Adoption Order is made, and adoptive parents become legal guardians for their child or children. Regional Adoption Agencies must support adopters and families they have matched for an initial three-year period – after which the responsibility falls to the local authority in which the family live. This support is available until a child is 18 years old or 25 years old if they have a Statement of Special Educational Needs or Education Health & Care Plan.
For Adopt Coast to Coast the support available could be in the form of regular communication, training, accessing the Adoption Support Fund, arranging peer support, being a sounding board, invitations to regular events, hosting support groups, putting parents in touch with organisations that may be able to offer other support or accessing the Adoption Support Fund.
As part of the new campaign, the agency has created two new case studies featuring real-life adopters of children with medical, behavioural, or developmental issues. One case study features Allison who adopted her son Thomas who has medical complications and learning difficulties.
Speaking about her experiences Allison said
It’s not always easy, we have difficult days, but we have amazing days too. He absolutely amazes me with how he manages and copes with everything. Within the application process, I did say I would be open to minor learning difficulties and minor disabilities as I felt that was right for me as a single parent. The information I had in Thomas’ report said that he had a cleft pallet, a hydrocele and potential learning difficulties, so I went away and did loads of research into what it all meant and came back and thought ‘yes I can still do this.’ It was a little bit daunting but then I met the foster parents and listened to what they had been through was hugely reassuring. They showed me a photo of him, and I just fell in love with him – that was it for me.
Thomas has also had some occupational therapy which has been funded by the Adoption Support Fund, and I can’t stress enough how amazing that fund has been in helping us. The support available to families is huge and I 100% believe that with the support available to him from us as a family, from school, and with the extra help received through post adoption support, we will be able to help him thrive and fulfil whatever he wants to be when he’s older.
Families come in many different forms and Adopt Coast to Coast is keen to reassure the public that there is not a set tick-list of qualities they are looking for – in fact the only rules are that prospective adopters must be over 21 and have lived in the UK for a year. There is no upper age limit, or stipulations relating to employment, income, house ownership or sexual orientation. However, some criminal convictions such as violence against children would make applicants exempt.
Find out more
Make an enquiry today and you could be approved and matched within just 6-12 months.
Learn more about Allison’s experiences of adopting her son with medical needs in our video case study here.
Hear all about one couples’ experience of adopting a brother and sister and a child with disability in their video here.