National Adoption Week 2017

Initially, I had planned a long, positive post praising National Adoption Week (16th to 22nd October 2017) and all it stands for. But the more I thought about it the more despondent I became. For some time, we had been looking forward to attending the National Adoption Awards in London, having been invited for nominating our social worker. Being shortlisted for Adoption Social Worker of the Year was a highlight in a difficult year for her – and us – and we all had something to celebrate. However, our excitement was short-lived when she had to withdraw on the advice of our local authority, considering her involvement in an upcoming high-profile case.

And for me, that pretty much summed up our experience of adoption so far. Every positive step is marred by sadness and disappointment. And that is tough to take sometimes, even making us lose sight of why we are doing this. Our own grief occasionally blurs our focus on who really matters, namely the children at the heart of all this, those waiting for forever families. Yes, it is essential to recognise the sterling work undertaken by those involved – including our own social worker who will forever be a winner in our eyes – but we should never forget that we have National Adoption Week for the sake of the children.

National Adoption Week is essential because over 2,000 children, more than half in sibling groups, need to be adopted. The reasons why they are being placed for adoption are many and varied: physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, sexual abuse, mental health issues, learning difficulties, substance misuse, and, rarely, relinquished. In more cases than not, the birth parents are simply unable to care for their – or any – children.

I guess I’m trying to say that it’s terrible that there even needs to be a National Adoption Week. And beyond that I’m grappling with the need to better inform people of the needs of children awaiting adoption. The abuse, neglect, and trauma they have experienced, and will continue to experience. The photos and videos of cute children only scratch the surface. Most people would want to give a cute wide-eyed child a loving home; it’s in-built.

Like most aspects of adoption, I can identify a problem but can make no headway in finding a solution. Getting exasperated about it but doing nothing doesn’t help anyone, but I feel I need to do this to process my thoughts appropriately so perhaps in the future I can find a solution, or at least be part of the solution. As an approved adopter waiting for a child to be placed with us, I have sworn to champion his needs and be his advocate. And by extension, as a corporate parent, I will be a supporter for all children awaiting adoption. In the long term, I hope that the need for National Adoption Week will diminish.

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