National Adoption Week 2021 Champions the Voices Less Heard
Monday 18th October 2021 marks the launch of National Adoption Week 2021, which aims to educate and inform people on the process of modern adoption today, with a rounded, honest, and inclusive portrayal of the journey – showcasing the highs and lows and championing all the voices involved in the process that are often less heard. These include adopted children, adopted adults, adoptive parents, birth parents, and the adoption and social care workforce that work tirelessly to get children into loving permanent homes.
To mark the week, the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group (NARSG) has released two new surveys looking at the nation’s understanding of modern adoption and exploring the experiences of those personally or professionally involved. The research shows the reality of adoption in 2021 – the many benefits, the challenges, and the perception gaps still to be addressed. In Bristol, over half (51%) believe adoption is more socially acceptable than it was 10 years ago, yet still a third (30%) admit they find adoption a difficult topic to speak about.1
Despite the need for more to be done for the public to have a better understanding of adoption, one in five (20%) adults in Bristol say they would consider adopting in the future and nearly nine in 10 (83%) believe that adopting a child would be rewarding.1 In the past 10 years, 40,920 adoptions have taken place in England, the vast majority of which have been incredibly beneficial and positive to the children and families involved.2
A survey of those from within the adoption community that have either adopted or work as an agency or social worker, reveals 94% think adoption today still has challenges to overcome. According to those from the workforce, the main challenge is how best to acknowledge a child’s birth family, heritage, and culture, and eight in 10 (82%) also believe the birth mother’s experience can be overlooked.
National Adoption Week this year aims to shine a light on the real-life stories of those working directly to help provide safe and loving homes for children and acknowledge others impacted by adoption. Over two thirds (69%) of the adoption community believe the children’s social care workforce don’t receive enough respect for their work. A further nine in 10 (88%) working in the sector admit to feeling undervalued in their role, though 80% would still recommend their job to others.3
National Adoption Week brings some of these issues and voices to the forefront in an emotive short film by illustrator and adoptive parent, Garry Parsons. The four-minute animated film features the life stories and real voices of six people that have had their lives changed by adoption – birth mother Anna*, single mum and adopter Sarah*, social worker Paula, 11-year-old Roman who was adopted age five, 19-year-old Tiegan who was adopted age four, and Sue who supported her daughter through the adoption process.
Tiegan, age 19, who features in the short film said:
“Being adopted has been an incredibly positive experience for me. I love my adoptive mums and I have good relationships with many birth relatives, but it is important people don’t look at adoption with rose tinted glasses. Growing up would have been much easier for me if people had a better understanding of adoption and how this shaped me as a person.”
Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said: “Over the past 50 years, more than 400,000 children have been adopted, each with their own unique stories to tell. While adoption has been an incredibly rewarding experience for many of these children, we cannot underestimate the complexities of adoption and its historical difficulties. National Adoption Week is a chance for every single person touched by adoption to feel seen, heard, valued and understood.”
With 2,100 children currently waiting to be adopted, National Adoption Week sets out to educate people about how to adopt4. Despite the fact most people are likely to be able to adopt and 24% in Bristol know something about eligibility, applications, and the support available to adopters, 85% of adults in Bristol say they don’t have a good understanding of how to start the process.
Further showing the need to continue educating people about adoption today, in Bristol over half (58%) were not aware that adoption should only be considered as a last resort for children after all other options are explored.1
Maggie Pitts, CEO of CCS Adoption in Bristol, a voluntary adoption agency supporting the National Adoption Week campaign commented:
“These recent surveys show that while the general understanding of the eligibility to adopt has improved there is still much work to be done in educating people about how to start the process and about the lifelong impact of adoption on everyone involved, especially the children. Talking to us at CCS Adoption is a great place to start if you are among the 20% of Bristolians who would consider adopting a child now or in the future.”
A series of events offering insight, advice, and support to adopted adults, adopters, birth families and adoption professionals will be taking place from 18th October. To find out more about National Adoption Week or to seek information or support, visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk/NAW
* Name changed to protect identity
1 Censuswide surveyed 2,001 adults in the UK (24-28 September 2021)
2 Department for Education, 2021 https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/statistics-looked-after-children
3 Survey Monkey survey of 419 people from adoption community; 413 adopters and 71 adoption agency social workers or local authority child’s social workers (28 September – 4 October 2021)
4 ASGLB data (April 2020 – March 2021 https://coram-i.org.uk/asglb/data/