It's all about love

Charlotte Ramsden
Friday, October 11, 2019

Next week is National Adoption Week and I've been reflecting on the important work of finding loving, stable homes for children who cannot live with their birth parents. While adoption can be the right thing for some children it's not suitable for every child - for some living with a foster family or in residential care might be the right option.

Over the last two years I've watched some close friends on their adoption journey and shared in their joy, from the moment they were approved to "Foster to Adopt" to when they were formally matched. Taking that first step to enquire about adoption can feel scary, most children and young people who come into our care do so because they have experienced abuse and neglect and will require support to help them overcome early trauma. While the vast majority of adoptions are successful some can experience challenges which is why supporting our adoptive families well with any issues they may face along the way is really important.

Adoption is changing and understanding what this means for those who want to adopt is crucial if we are to continue to find adoptive parents to love our children. Whether it is the determination to find the right home for a baby, a sibling group, an older child or a child with additional needs, or whether it is addressing the risks of social media or anxieties about available support, the right person or family is there and it is up to us to find them.

One of my most memorable social work cases was a foster carer who loved the three siblings with additional needs that she cared for so much that she adopted them all. The development of post-adoption support and the Adoption Support Fund has made this possible and will hopefully encourage more people who want to adopt to take that first step and enquire about making the difference for the children who are waiting.

Despite it being National Adoption Week, I also want to pay tribute to all those family and friends who love and care for another group of children in our care through Special Guardianship arrangements. We know that these loving carers also need to be valued and supported and enabled to nurture the children in their care. Having one national leadership board for adoption and special guardianship reflects the recognition of the similarities between the two.

In the last few days, I read the incredibly powerful Care Experienced Conference report. The overwhelming message about the need for love, value and stable relationships for our looked-after children and care leavers is just as true for our children who are adopted. The importance of heritage and history and identity is something we want for all children, whether they find it with their birth families, their adoptive families or in our direct care. The strength and wisdom of those experts by experience is invaluable and we need to seek their expertise in the right way to do better in how we love and care for those children and young people in our care now and for the future.

For those whose future is adoption, the expertise of care experienced people can surely help us in supporting and developing our future adoptive parents, especially in how to lovingly support a young person to develop their identity encompassing all parts of who they are and where they have come from. It really is all about love.

To all the adopters, foster carers, residential care workers, special guardians and more who love and care for our children - thank you. For those who think adoption may be for them, then this National Adoption Week get in touch with your local authority or a voluntary adoption agency near you.

Charlotte Ramsden is strategic director for children and adults at Salford City Council. This blog first appeared on the ADCS website