With falling numbers of applications for adoption, a new campaign has been launched today (Monday 15th October) to encourage more people to become adoptive parents.
There are currently around 3000 children in care in Northern Ireland. Almost 700 of these children are under 5 years old.
Most of these children, who come into care return to their birth families, some will live with relatives, others in foster or residential care.
Around 90 children are adopted here every year with over one third of these children needing to be placed alongside a brother or sister.
Until quite recently there has not been any shortage of prospective adopters in Northern Ireland, but over the last couple of years there has been falling numbers of adoption enquiries and lower numbers of applications in some Health and Social Care Trust areas.
Launching the ‘Adoption Changes Lives’ campaign during the first ever Adoption Week NI (15th – 21st October 2018) Marie Roulston, Director of Social Care and Children with the Health and Social Care Board said; “This campaign is about celebrating adoption and sharing inspirational real-life stories from local families. It is aimed at encouraging more people to think about becoming an adoptive parent and consider whether they can provide a forever home to a child or children.
“We are urgently seeking adoptive parents for many children but in particular to help keep brothers and sisters together; for children aged 4 and over; and for children with disabilities or more complex health and care needs,” she said.
Mrs Roulston continued: “There are a lot of myths about who can and can’t adopt children. You can adopt if you are over 21, whether you are single or in a couple, whatever your sexual orientation, religious or ethnic background. If you are interested, I would encourage you to make the call and ask for an information pack to find out more about the process.”
Explaining how adoption changed their lives Alastair and Judith, adoptive parents from Co Antrim commented: “We made an initial call to look into adoption and then attended information sessions and training. It was a thorough process and we knew that but we completely engaged and found it very beneficial. We adopted twins, a boy and a girl aged 2, it was incredible. Meeting our children for the first time was the best day of our lives. There was so much anxiety, apprehension and excitement but we fell in love with them at first sight. It was easier we found to adopt siblings as they will continue to have each other for the rest of their lives. Adoption has transformed all of our lives.”
NI Chief Social Worker Sean Holland said he fully supports the ‘Adoption Changes Lives’ campaign. “Adoption Week is an important time in our annual calendar. It provides us with the opportunity to both recognise the incredibly important role that adoptive families play in Northern Ireland and also to promote adoption here. We cannot underestimate the value of providing children in care with loving, stable, permanent homes and I would like to personally thank those families who have done just that over the years. I would also strongly encourage other families to think about making the same journey and urge you to make the initial call for more information.”
EJ from Adoption UK added; “‘Adoption UK is delighted to be involved in this campaign to promote Adoption Week NI which enables us to celebrate the adoption community and to encourage more adoptive parents to come forward and meet the needs of children who are unable to live with their birth family.”
The campaign has been led by the Health and Social Care Board in partnership with Health and Social Care Trusts, the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service and Adoption UK.
If you would like to find out more about adoption call for an information pack on 0800 0720 137 or log onto www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net.
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