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National Adoption Week 2023 | You Can Adopt

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To celebrate National Adoption Week (16-22 October 2023) a group of adopted people came together to share their story as part of a new photo series and short film which spotlights how adoption has changed over the years.  

Photographer - Philip Sinden - who was adopted, captured the collection of powerful portraits featuring those adopted between the 1960s and 2010s. An emotive behind-the-scenes film of the photoshoot brings together the individual stories and experiences of adoptees. It seems that there is an emphasis today on the openness of adoption, helping children understand their history, and maintaining connections with their birth family. 

Statistics show that over the last five years, there has been a 23% decrease in the number of children being adopted. Of the 2110 waiting to be adopted in the year 2022/2023, 60% came from groups that repeatedly face the longest delays. These children wait, on average, seven months longer to find a permanent home. The You Can Adopt campaign is encouraging prospective adopters to come forward and highlights the impact adopting a child could have on their lives. From my view, both as a professional and an adopter, the film’s energy, messaging, and articulation of the reality of the adoption experience was beautifully portrayed by the children, the teenagers and the adults.  

That is not to say that every message was positive, including the challenges of accessing adoption records - to see the name of your birth father for the first time - and the challenge of being adopted from another country, and incorporating the enormity of that experience into a life created elsewhere.  

However, the warmth and connection between adopters and their adopted young people, their confidence to share all of this with strangers via the campaign, conveyed the complex but the extremely rewarding aspects that adoption can bring to both adopted people and adopters. 

At the same time, the film creates an awareness of the impact on all the individuals whose lives will have been affected by adoption including birth parents, siblings, and adoptive families who would have been painfully affected by the longer-term impact of their child’s abuse and neglect. 

Sarah Johal, member of the National Adoption Recruitment Steering Group and National Adoption Strategic lead, said: “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”.   

Adoption is both lifechanging and life impacting. We need to be open to and engaged in sensitively listening to what every individual and family want or need to say about their experiences. It is not to be hidden as once was the expected approach. The film and the participants truly convey this. Thank you. 

John Simmonds, Director of Policy, Research and Development, CoramBAAF