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National Adoption Week – A portrait of adoption through the generations

6:00 am, Monday, 16th October 2023 - 8 months ago

Children and families

North East Lincolnshire Council and One Adoption North and Humber, the regional adoption agency for the York, North Yorkshire and the Humber, are supporting this year’s National Adoption Week (16-22 October), which aims to show how adoption has changed through the decades.

In the North and Humber area there are currently 55 children of all ages, including groups of brothers and sisters, who are waiting for their forever family. One Adoption North and Humber is encouraging potential adopters to come forward to change the lives of these children by offering them a safe, loving, and permanent home.

To mark the launch of National Adoption Week, a powerful set of portraits captured by royal, fashion and portrait photographer Philip Sinden – who was adopted himself in the 1970s – have been released. The portraits show striking imagery of eight different people who were adopted between the 1960s-2010s. Each individual portrait features a backdrop of emotive and poignant words that bring to life how adoption has shaped, and continues to shape, their lives and highlights how adoption has changed over the years.

The portraits have been released alongside a short film which shares first-hand the different experiences of adopted people, challenging misconceptions about what adoption looks like today.

Through these powerful stories of adopted people across different generations, this campaign aims to shine a spotlight on the positive impact adoption has had on the individuals’ lives, and the strides made in the sector to put children and their sense of identity at the heart of the adoption journey. Whilst recognising the challenges they have faced, the new campaign brings to life the transformational power of a permanent family home.

The stories of the different people featured highlight how adoption has changed. Historically, adoption was often seen as secretive and hidden, with little information and support provided to help adopted people understand their history and maintain connections with their birth family. However, it is now considered vital that adopted people have a good understanding of their history and the reason why they were adopted to help form a positive sense of identity.

Councillor Margaret Cracknell, portfolio holder for children and education at North East Lincolnshire Council, said: “I’m delighted we’re able to support One Adoption North and Humber in this year’s National Adoption Week campaign. We are looking for families from all backgrounds who can offer a permanent, caring, forever home to children who may not have had the best start in life. By shining a light on the real-life stories of adoptees across the last 50 years, we hope to demonstrate how adoption has changed and help reshape perceptions towards modern adoption. By increasing understanding about adoption today, we hope to encourage people to find out more and see how they can help change a child’s life.”

There is still a huge need for more people to come forward to adopt, with a 23% decline nationally in the proportion of children leaving care via adoption over the last five years – last year (2022), 2,950 children left care via adoption, 900 less than in 2018. 

In the North and Humber area many of the children waiting for adoption come from specific groups who repeatedly face the longest delays in finding a home. These groups include children aged five or over, children with additional and/or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.

Tom Maxwell, Service Manager for York and North Yorkshire at One Adoption North and Humber said: “At One Adoption North and Humber we are proud to support this year’s National Adoption Week. It is not only a chance to celebrate modern adoption and hear the voices of all people who have experienced adoption across the generations; it is also an opportunity to highlight adoption as a positive option for permanency for some of our most vulnerable children. We support anyone considering adoption as a pathway to creating and growing a family and welcome them to get in touch with us to find out more.

“We are always particularly keen to hear from people who could offer a safe and loving forever home to a group of brothers and sisters, children with additional health needs and older children, as these groups of children tend to wait the longest for a forever family. We know that most people thinking about adoption will come with a range of life experience, skills and strengths that will have a profoundly positive impact on these children’s lives and whilst adopting a child may not always be easy, the rewards are far reaching and life-long.”

Isabelle (adopted in the 1980s), who features in the film alongside her adopted son Nathanial (adopted in the 2010s), said:Having been adopted myself, and then going on to adopt my two children, I know the importance of having an open dialogue around adoption. I want my kids to grow up knowing where they came from, and where possible, maintaining contact with their birth families. I didn’t know about my birth mother until I was much older, meaning I always had questions about my identity and history. Adoption is not a line in the sand between one life and another. It is something that should be open and celebrated – and I’m passionate about doing that with both my children.”

Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said: “This campaign shares the individual stories of people who have been adopted across the generations. Adoption has changed over the years and originally this was shrouded in secrecy and sometimes adopted children were not told about being adopted. When children cannot be safely cared for within their birth or extended family, adoption provides the security and permanence for children to help them thrive as adults. Nowadays, most children are adopted from care, and they have life story work to help them understand their history and many have ongoing connections with their birth family.”

One Adoption North and Humber is hosting an online adoption information event on Wednesday 25 October between 6pm and 7pm to give anyone interested in adopting the chance to ask questions, find out about what is involved and to hear about the range of support that is available to adoptive families. To book a place please visit https://www.oneadoption.co.uk/events

To find out more about National Adoption Week or to seek information or support, visit www.youcanadopt.co.uk/NAW2023 (live from 16th October)

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