Adopting a quicker path

A DETERMINED mother from Pontefract has said she felt like she’d hit a “brick wall” when she tried to adopt through Wakefield Council.

Sarah – whose name has been changed to protect the identity of her three adopted children – adopted the sibling group seven weeks ago after joining an independent adoption agency in February to help her get the family she’d dreamed of.

She has spoken out in the same week that campaigners for National Adoption Week have called for new adoptive parents and social workers to come forwards and help more than 65,000 children in care in England.

Sarah said: “My husband and I got married seven years ago, and have been trying for a family for the whole seven years.

“We wanted it to be traditional and to just have what most people would call a normal family.

“When we realised I couldn’t get pregnant, I went to the council three times, I first rang when we were deciding what the best option was to go for, whether it was adoption, IVF, or artificial insemination.

“How could I make a decision about what I was going to do unless I knew all the options in front of me?”

“I ended up going with a different agency because Wakefield authorities put up a brick wall, they wouldn’t give me any information or even talk to me until I was sure I wasn’t going to try any other route.”

Sarah’s son and two daughters are three, five, and six, and had been living with foster parents for two years.

She said: “They could have been with me a lot quicker if I had known how to get through the adoption stages sooner.”

Lyn Burns, council service director for safeguarding and family support, said: “We do have a rigorous process in place to protect the interests of the children waiting to be adopted and the interests of the adoptive parents. We would urge people who are thinking about adoption to come and talk to us, we can explain the process and provide information so that they can make an informed choice about whether or not to apply.”

Adoption Week – from 31 October to 6 November – is promoted by British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) and fuelled this year by government statistics which revealed that 11 per cent of children in care were adopted over the last three years.

Erica Amende, BAAF regional director, said: “The government is promoting BAAF’s National Adoption Week as it is concerned that fewer children have been adopted out of care in the last three years.

“The government believes adoption gives some vulnerable children the chance of a loving stable upbringing, and it wants more children to have this chance.

“There’s a shortage of social workers, because it’s a difficult, thankless job that is paid less than teachers.

“There’s also serious financial problems as councils receive less money from central government and have to make cuts in their spending. This means that resources in councils are severely stretched, and council managers are juggling competing demands such as protecting children versus approving adopters, often with fewer staff.”

Wakefield Council has been ranked 14th in the adoption league tables published this week with 16 per cent of children in its care adopted over the last three years.

At the end of March, the council had 395 children in care, 50 children are waiting to be placed with adoptive families.

Olivia Rowley, council’s cabinet member for children and young people, said: “Wakefield’s place in the league tables shows how quickly children are placed with a family after the decision has been made that they should be placed for adoption.”

“We agree that once the decision has been made it is important to find an adoptive family that can meet the child’s needs as soon as possible.”

Go to www.national adoptionweek.org.uk for more information.