‘You Can Adopt’ campaign launches in Oxfordshire
Vulnerable children in Oxfordshire are set to benefit from a new campaign, launching Wednesday 16 September, designed to dispel myths around who is eligible to adopt and encourage more residents to consider the role.
An emotive FILM features an adoptive family from South Oxfordshire; Charlotte and Peter Brown (see case study at the end of this press release); and singer Sinitta (see photo above, with her mum, Miquel Brown).
Oxfordshire is playing a key role in the national #YouCanAdopt campaign, which explores what the adoption process involves and highlights the need for more adopters.
Since early April, there has been a 14% increase in enquiries to adopt with Adopt Thames Valley. However, considerable delays to court processes due to COVID-19 means there will be many more children who will need adopting come the autumn.
Oxfordshire desperately needs more adopters from across its diverse communities, who can offer children a permanent safe and loving home.
Most of Adopt Thames Valley’s assessment and training has transferred to virtual platforms to ensure the ‘recruitment’ process continues, despite the pandemic.
Earlier this year, a new report revealed that over four in ten (45%) adults in the UK have considered adoption or would consider adoption in future. But, despite this, over six in 10 (62%) adults feel they do not know much about the adoption process. This lack of knowledge may contribute to many people not taking the important first step.
Some of the biggest misconceptions around eligibility are that single people, older people, and those who are LGBTQ+ are not allowed to adopt. This is not the case.
Teresa Rogers, Head of Adopt Thames Valley, said: “We are very excited to be supporting this campaign and keen to encourage more people to explore adopting with us. As a Regional Adoption Agency, we both assess adopters and family-find for children living in the region.
“While welcoming all to apply, we would particularly like to hear from potential adoptive parents who can consider adopting older children, sibling groups and those with complex health needs or a disability.
“We would also love to hear from more potential parents from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds, as these children traditionally wait longer to be matched with a new adoptive family.”
To help shine a light on the diverse range of families who have and can adopt, a new emotive film is being released featuring singer Sinitta, and TV vocal coaches Carrie and David Grant alongside other families – including Oxfordshire’s Charlotte and Peter Brown. They are all encouraging others to consider adoption.
In the film, the adoptive families recite a poem written by comedienne, writer and adoptee Joy Carter, which brings to life the stories of each of the families: the highs, lows and realities of adoption.
The film also dispels some key misconceptions about adoption using a recurrent theme – you can adopt. It is being released online and across social media during the campaign. A podcast series is also being released, featuring famous voices such as Anna Richardson, Sinitta, Harry Derbidge and Annie Price, who talk to families about the adoption process and the journey they took to adopt their children.
County Councillor Steve Harrod, Cabinet Member for Children and Families, said:
“The future of many Oxfordshire children depends on adults exploring adoption and taking the first step towards becoming an adoptive parent.
“We need to address misunderstandings and outdated views to ensure that nobody is discouraged from taking the first important step towards adopting a child. Some people assume that because of their age or marital status they won’t be able to adopt, but that is simply not true, adoption is a choice for residents who want to become a parent.”
Sinitta, singer and mum of two, said:
“I would definitely encourage others to consider adoption. I always knew I wanted children and I tried everything from IVF to surrogacy to have them.
“All of those journeys led to heartbreak, except adoption. The feeling of finally becoming a mother was almost indescribable; it's just everything. It was everything I wanted and more. I love my children more than anything and I always say that love is thicker than blood.”
The adoption process has evolved over the last few years; it is simpler and quicker than it has been previously and there is a lot more support available.
To find out more visit www.adoptthamesvalley.co.uk
Charlotte and Peter Brown
Residents of South Oxfordshire
Charlotte was worried that her troubled past would be a barrier to adoption. But as she and husband Peter found out, adopters come from all kinds of backgrounds. Now they are loving life as parents to their happy, funny daughter. This is their story; in Charlotte’s words:
“Our daughter Patricia is a fantastic, creative little girl. She loves riding her bike, climbing trees, and making up songs and stories. Adopting her was the best thing that me and my husband Peter have ever done. But if I’d allowed my troubled past to define me, we would never have done it.
“At first, me and Peter didn’t think too much about children when we moved in together. I still couldn’t believe I’d met this wonderful man after swearing to stay single! But then I got pregnant and had a miscarriage, followed by an ectopic pregnancy.
“The ectopic changed my mind about becoming pregnant. Suddenly, it became something that could kill me. We thought about fertility treatment – but why not use that money to create a home for an adopted child?
“It took us time to come to that decision, of course. I think everyone needs to go through a process of grieving when you know you can’t have a birth child. So, it was two years between me having the ectopic and making the decision to adopt. During that time, we got married. I remember seeing Peter playing with a little girl at our wedding. He was making her a bubble wrap dress! And I thought: yep, that’s it, and we need to go for a girl.
“The adoption process wasn’t easy. But that’s a good thing. It’s all about the child and what is right for them. I admit that I was scared of my past. I had been in an abusive relationship and had had a traumatic childhood.
“We were accepted for stage one of the adoption process on the condition that I agreed to see a professional counsellor. The counselling was tough. There were days when Peter would come home and find me crying my heart out. But so much good came out of it, and I’m a much better parent for doing it.
“Once we reached stage two of the process, where they ask about every aspect of your lives, I found it far easier to be open. I’d be asked what I’d do in a certain situation. And I could admit that I wouldn’t necessarily know, that I could try this or that, rather than saying I’d definitely do one thing.
“We worked as a team all the way through. Peter didn’t find the process too hard. He said it was just like doing homework, except on your own life. So, he took on the job of completing all the different forms that we needed. He’s just been amazing, and he’s an incredible dad. We both believed it was important to go on this journey together and help each other out when we got stuck.
“Eventually, we were approved. Patricia’s profile was the first one we were shown, and we were determined not to automatically go for our first one! While Peter connected with her straight away, I wasn’t sure.
“We were allowed to go for a short visit at her foster carer’s house. The first thing she did was poke me in the face! And that was it: I was smitten. I didn’t want to leave that house. She owned me from that point on.
“After that, things moved very quickly. It was incredible to see how she bonded with us during the introduction period and gradually she got used to us and, we got used to her. Perhaps, in her own little head, she had already moved. Within a few weeks, we brought Patricia home for good.
“She actually became too attached to us in the early days and developed an attachment disorder when Peter went back to work full time. She’d get very distressed when he left, and one day I had to call Peter to take me to hospital – because I was so tired that I accidentally blended the top of my finger! But he got to do an awful lot more for her because of that, so they bonded even better.
“Of course, like any child, she has her challenges. We’re currently teaching her how important it is to listen! Luckily, Adopt Thames Valley offered parenting classes, which we found very useful. They’ve given us a toolkit for understanding why Patricia does something, and that helps us to parent empathetically.
“Life with Patricia is never dull. She’s the most joyful child you will ever meet. She’s a natural comedian and she’s so funny. We’ve been there for all the ‘firsts’ – the first step, first word, first bike ride, and first day at school. It doesn’t feel like we’ve missed any part of her life.
“So, if you’re thinking about adopting, go into it with open eyes and an open mind. Whatever you have in your past, just go to an information evening or pick up the phone. It’s important to accept your past and own it - but it doesn’t define who you are.”
Please note: Charlotte, Peter and Patricia are pseudonyms chosen by the case studies, as it is important not to reveal actual names when sharing a story about an adopted child. Dates have been left deliberately vague to ensure identification is not possible.