According to Jenny MacQuire, children with disabilities often wait the longest for adoption.
There are about two thousand children waiting for adoption in England, and half of them have to wait more than eighteen months from entering care to being adopted. Specific groups who face the longest delays in finding a home, including children over five, children with additional or complex needs, brother and sister groups, and those with black or mixed heritage.
Ash shares her story:
Graham and I are an interabled married couple from Durham. I have cerebral palsy and use a wheelchair. Quite rightly I had to jump through extra hoops to adopt Bill. As part of our assessment, our adoption social worker had to understand from my consultant how I manage my condition. Bill has a rare chromosome condition called Jansen de Vries Syndrome. When we adopted him, we were told that his condition was uncertain, he would need to go to special education and he probably wouldn’t be able to read and write. Professionals were unsure if he would even be able to talk to us or not. Bill has defied the odds and exceeded everyone’s expectations of him and he delights us every day. He is now going to attend a mainstream school in September and is starting to read three letter words and can write his name. Our network of people have helped us achieve this with Bill—support in adoption is vital. Bill’s consultants are amazed by his progress, and they say we have parented him really well.
The truth is we are first-time parents, and it is the training and ongoing support provided by Adoption Matters that prepared us to parent Bill. People tell us they would adopt tomorrow if their adoption journey could be as good as ours. Our initial adopter preparation training taught us to have empathy and respect for birth parents. We share regular photos with Bill’s birth Mum and Dad. They have some additional needs and not much understanding about adoption but I know that they love Bill as much as we do.
Kate, Ash and Graham’s social worker comments: “People rule themselves out from adoption for all sorts of reasons—because they are single, because they have a low disposable income, or because they have a disability. All children are different, and they all need different things from an adoptive family. The one thing that they all need is a permanent home, and we need a diverse pool of adopters to provide the right homes for these children. There are many more children like Bill who need someone to accept them for who they are.
Thinking back through Ash and Graham’s journey to parenthood fills me with happiness. Although they could have been considered for any child, from any background, when they first saw the profile for Bill it was clear that they had found the right little boy to join their family. The panel that recommended the approval of the match between Ash and Graham and Bill, were able to see the strengths that Ash and Graham have as a couple, and the unique experience that they would bring to parenting a child with Bill’s condition”.
Jenny MacQuire is Marketing Manager at Adoption Matters, who provide support for adopters like Ash and Graham. Each family has a different journey, and their support is tailored to the family.