Adoption is often a lifesaver, quite literally, for many children, either because they have suffered the unexpected and tragic loss of a parent, or because their parents have been unable or even in some cases unwilling to care for them. Worse still, some have to be removed from their parents for their own safety perhaps due to parental drug abuse or other reasons.
Often this means they are moved from one home to another, sometimes a long way from each other and this can mean they have their schooling interrupted as well. All this can mean that they can fall behind in their education and that can make a poor start in life worse, as they grow older.
I wonder how many of us would have reacted if we had found ourselves in such a situation and am grateful every day for the loving family I grew up in. I certainly had little understanding of it until my wife who is a local councillor joined a local Adoption Panel.
Foster families can make a different to these children’s lives, even if only for a while, as it can give them a stable base for a few weeks, months or even years and provide a stepping stone towards adoption. But sadly there are still too few foster families for the number of children needing fostering and the support and encouragement in life that a caring family can bring to them.
For many of these young people, adoption can provide a better answer to this endless cycle of negative experiences.
Whilst adoption has historically been a very lengthy process, recent changes in adoption law have tried to speed up the process, so that children and young people are not left in limbo as tribunals, panels and courts make decisions about their future.
But for those who have to make those decisions, such as local Adoption Panel members, those decisions can become very personal and at times even emotional. Whilst the cases can at times seem sad and even upsetting, the contrast when they are able to find a suitable family to adopt a young person and it starts to turn their life around can be amazing and extremely rewarding.
Seeing a child who has come from a family where they were not properly cared for and who feels that life has given up on them, being adopted by a new family is incredibly rewarding work and makes all the negative experiences worth enduring for the child you can help and beginning to believe in themselves again.
Adoptive families come in all shapes and sizes, with no barriers to ethnicity, sexuality or wealth. Families either with children already or perhaps parents who were not able to have children of their own. They do go through some very thorough assessment to check that they are suitable as adoptive parents, but considering the life experiences of some of these young people that is only to be expected.
And for many children, in the end they aren’t adopted children at all, just members of that family.
Adoptive families are often the invisible unsung heroes in a child’s life, but for the children’s sake they don’t want to be noticed, as that just draws attention to the child’s pervious situation.
So let’s say and huge thank you to all those anonymous families who have provided a stable, loving family background to children who had a poor start in life, but whose life has been turned around by being adopted.