Home for Good's response to the Secretary of State’s speech on adoption - 14th October 2020

Too many children wait too long for their adoptive family and some children who need one, never find one at all.

The Government’s renewed commitment today, to finding every child a loving, safe and permanent home, is welcome. Too many children wait too long for their adoptive family and some children who need one, never find one at all.

In particular, through our Change His Future campaign, we have been raising our concern that Black children (especially boys) not only wait the longest but are also the least likely to be adopted. This must change. We believe that having a safe and loving family, utterly committed to a child, is critical for them to thrive in all aspects of their life and to reach their full potential.

Alongside investing in the adoption system, there is also much more to be done to support birth families who love their children but due to their circumstances are unable to care for them. Whenever possible, children should be enabled to thrive at home with their birth family but when this is not possible, we must offer them a loving and stable home through a fantastic foster family or through adoption.

It is exciting to hear the Secretary of State suggesting that we should learn from best practice overseas. Adoption practice around the world varies and there are aspects in some nations that we at Home for Good would not advocate replicating here in the UK. As the SOS states, adoption is not the right option for all children. However, we are concerned that older children in England are denied even the possibility of finding an adoptive family, simply due to their age. In England 63% of children in care are aged over 10 yet just 1% of children being adopted are aged over 10. There is no age at which we should give up on finding a stable, permanent family for a child who needs one. There is much to learn from other nations who have pioneered finding adoptive families for teenagers and even young adults.

At a recent Transatlantic Learning Exchange that we facilitated, we had the privilege of hearing from young adopted people from the USA who found their adoptive family in their late teens or early twenties. Their stories are powerful and their voices should be heard.

Every child deserves a home that is a haven and the love and commitment of a safe family – whether that is with their birth family, a foster family, with a friend or family member through kinship care or with a new adoptive family. Sadly older children, children from Black and Minority Ethnic groups, those with additional needs and those in siblings groups are the least likely to receive this.

The Government are right to emphasise that too many people rule themselves out of adoption due to myths and misconceptions. Our research shows that this can be particularly true for those stepping forward from minority ethnic groups. To ensure that those coming forward to adopt from a faith or minority ethnic background have a positive experience of the adoption system, we help to train social workers in faith and cultural literacy. Through this and through our work with local authorities and voluntary adoption agencies, we meet wonderful, dedicated social workers who want the very best for children and who operate within difficult circumstances to deliver this.

There are steps that can be taken to improve the system so that more people have the confidence to step forward and have a positive experience of the assessment process and there is much excellent practice that already exists within the sector that can be replicated. When adoption is in the best interests of the child and whilst not compromising on essential scrutiny, we must move fast to find them the very best adoptive family to meet their needs. In England, almost 40% of children wait longer than 18 months for their adoptive family. This should not be necessary.

Adopting a child who has experienced trauma and has had a very difficult start in life is a wonderful privilege and will not always be simple or straightforward. In addition to the incredible love and care that parents can provide, adoptive families will need ongoing support from the Government, their social worker and wider community. We are pleased that the Government has reiterated their commitment to the Adoption Support Fund again today. We have been campaigning for this fund to be retained and expanded through our work with the APPG on Adoption and Permanence.

We are pleased to hear that the Government is progressing with its plans to review the care system. However, as the Secretary of State noted, we too often talk about systems when we should be talking about children. We welcome the vision of a care system that works for all children and gives them the best possible chance to succeed in life. It is vital that children’s voices, who the Secretary of State recognised as often being the quietest, are placed front and centre of this review and it is essential that the review is broad and ambitious in its remit.

The Secretary of State said today, “What we are asking people to do through adoption is truly a big thing, a life-changing thing. We are asking them to open their heart and open their home to a youngster.”

This is what we believe fostering and adoption is all about – stepping up to offer a child the safe and loving home that they need. We at Home for Good are committed to championing those that do and will not stop until we find a home for every child who needs one.

Author:
Home for Good


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