ADOPTION charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is appealing for more people to consider adopting children of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) heritage.
PACT offers outstanding adoption services to families across the South East and last year placed 82 children with 57 families. There are currently more than 2,000 children waiting to be adopted in England.
PACT is particularly looking for couples or individuals, including those from the LGBT community, who are themselves of BME heritage who could provide a home to BME children, who often wait the longest to be adopted.
To help people find out more the agency is holding a special event featuring a panel of people who have adopted BME children through PACT, who will be sharing their adoption stories and answering questions about their experiences.
The adoption Q&A event is being held in Pimlico, London on Saturday 16th June from 10am until 12pm. It will also give people the chance to talk individually with experienced adopters and PACT social workers as well as to meet other prospective adopters.
One of the adopters taking part in the panel is Marcia, who with her husband Ian, adopted sisters Summer*, who was two years old, and Rachel*, who was 16 months old, through PACT in 2015. Marcia is Black British with a Guyanese/Jamaican family heritage, and Ian was born in Jamaica. Summer and Rachel are of Caribbean family heritage.
Marcia said she felt that identity should be given careful consideration when matching children with adoptive parents.
"I just think that in their lives my girls will have 101 extra things to deal with because they are adopted so if issues over identity can be avoided, why not avoid them. For me I am absolutely determined to do what I can to make my girls proud of who they are, and I know I can help them with that."
Marcia encouraged people of BME heritage to consider adoption, and not to be put off by the adoption process and the scrutiny that was involved, particularly for those whose cultural background may be different.
She said: "I think it's the things you have been through, particularly the painful parts, that help you relate to the children you are adopting. You realise that what you have experienced is what your children might experience and that you can help them through that."
PACT's Chief Executive Jan Fishwick OBE said although there is no legal requirement for adoption agencies to consider a child's racial, cultural and linguistic background when a placement is made, there are obvious advantages to matching children with adoptive parents who are from a similar ethnicity.
She said: "As a child, being able to identify with your main care provider, visually, culturally, historically and emotionally, will ultimately improve the chances of a more stable and enriched childhood.
"We are really keen to do what we can to reduce the time that children of BME heritage have to wait for their forever family. Please do come along to our event or get in touch with us if you would like to find out more."
The event on Saturday 16th June will start with a brief presentation about the adoption process followed by the question and answer session with the panel of adopters. It is free to attend, but people will need to book a place by calling 0300 456 4800 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
*Names have been changed to protect identities