A new campaign, supported by Coram, starts today (29 June) to encourage the public to think differently about adoption and the children waiting longest to find a permanent home.
The campaign, ‘A Life Less Ordinary’, has been launched by You Can Adopt* to highlight the need to find the right adopters for specific groups of children that face the greatest delays in finding a home. These include children aged five or over, children with additional and/or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those from an ethnic minority background.
In London, children from these groups represent 78% of the 180 children currently waiting to be placed with a family, according to the most recent data from the ASGLB (Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board, 2021/22**). 90 children from these groups in London have been waiting for 18 months or longer to be placed.
Nationally, compared to children without these characteristics:
- Children over five wait 13 months longer to be adopted from care
- Children with a disability wait 11 months longer
- Children in brother and sister groups wait 11 months longer
- Children from an ethnic minority (excluding white minorities) wait 3 months longer
To reduce waiting times for these groups, the campaign showcases the many life-changing benefits of adopting these children, explores the traits parents need to be resilient adopters, and highlights the support available to adopters and adopted children – highlighting that while some children may be ‘harder to place’, they are not ‘harder to love’.
New data for the campaign*** shows that over a third (35%) of people in London would consider adopting a child. However, showing the need for adopters to come forward specifically for groups waiting longest, the majority in London are most open to adopting a child aged between 1 and 4 (90%); nearly 1 in 5 (18%) wouldn’t adopt a child with additional needs (e.g., a physical/mental disability), and 1 in 7 (14%) wouldn’t adopt a brother and sister group. However, over half (53%) said they would be more likely to consider adopting a child from one of these groups if they knew about the range of support available.
While at first people may not feel confident to adopt brothers and sisters, older children, or those with additional needs, parents of adopted children have emphasised they have many of the same everyday needs and qualities as any other child.
A new survey of adoptive parents for the campaign**** showed more than half (55%) felt adopting had been the most meaningful, rewarding experience of their life. In addition, while most adopters (57%) did not originally set out to adopt a child from one of the groups which typically waits longer, 54% said they became more open-minded to it as they moved through the process.
As part of the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign, a new film has been released featuring children from these groups forming an ‘expert’ interview panel, asking real adoptive parents questions about what it takes to give these children a permanent home.
Coram, who is supporting the campaign, leads the Regional Adoption Agency, Coram Ambitious for Adoption in partnership with eight local authorities across London and Slough Children’s Trust. Coram welcomes enquiries from prospective adopters across London and surrounding areas, and provides support to its adoptive families throughout the process and afterwards whenever it is needed. The first step for anyone interested in adopting is to join one of Coram’s free monthly online information events, with the next ones taking place on 12 July and 9 August.
Sue Lowndes, Managing Director of Coram Ambitious for Adoption, said: “We hope that the messages and real-life stories shared through the ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ campaign will convey how positive and life-changing adoption is for a child and will inspire prospective adopters to step forward to adopt children who often wait the longest to find a family.
“We warmly welcome all adopters from across London and surrounding areas who are willing to consider providing a safe and loving home to a child or children from these groups. We particularly encourage potential adoptive parents from black and ethnic minority communities to come forward so we can focus on matching more children with families who can promote their ethnicity, culture and identity as they grow up.
“We’d urge anyone interested to come to one of our information events where they can find out more about the process and the support we can provide throughout your journey.”
Rita who through Coram adopted a little girl with additional needs, said: “Everything I thought I couldn’t cope with at the beginning, I have managed to cope with. My daughter is so much more than I could ever have hoped for. My expectations have been exceeded a thousand times over. It has enriched my world and I have done things that I would never have done if it wasn’t for her. We talk about how she found me, and I found her. We couldn’t imagine a better match. It feels like such a privilege to be able to help her become herself. I can’t take credit for the person she is becoming but I feel that I’m part of it. The rewards are more rewarding when you’ve had a difficult start.”