Adoption charity Parents And Children Together (PACT) is appealing for people from key worker professions to consider adoption.
The agency would really like to hear from key workers such as nurses, teachers, police officers, social workers, doctors, ambulance staff, childminders and those in the care sector, as given their professional experience and skills they typically make strong adopters, and they are particularly valued by local authorities looking to place a child.
Rated outstanding by Ofsted and offering its families specialist adoption support services for life, PACT has been building and strengthening families since 1911Last year it placed 89 children with 66 families through its adoption services.
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, children have continued to come into care and the need for adoptive families is increasing.
Over the last 21 months PACT’s enquiries team has spoken with many people considering adoption and heard how this year has given people the time to consider their route to completing their families.
PACT is a warm, welcoming and professional agency open to a wide range of people including couples or single people, people from the Black and Minority Ethnic community and LGBT+, who can consider adopting children over four years old, sibling groups of two or more children, children with a black or minority ethnic background and children who may have physical or learning disabilities.
Sasha* is a single adopter who brought her daughter Maya* home in May 2019. Sasha works as a children’s nurse and has always wanted to be a mum, but never found the right person to settle down and start a family with. She said: “Adoption seemed the obvious choice to find a way of fulfilling my dream.”
She felt that giving a child who had already had a difficult start in life the chance to have a loving, stable home was the best thing she could do and Sasha has reflected on adoption since Maya came home:
“Seeing her joy at mastering new skills and exploring the world has been just amazing. Seeing her thrive and catch up, and being so settled and secure is more than I ever hoped to achieve in this first year. She has also been completely loved, accepted and adored by my family and friends, which has just made me realise how my decision to adopt was completely the right thing to do.
“I never imagined I’d be a mum to the most gorgeous little girl; she has completely transformed my life. She has filled a gap that I didn’t know existed and she is such a blessing. I totally hit the jackpot and am so proud to call myself her mummy.
“At the time, the process feels like it’s going to be a long journey, but it really does fly by and once you have them at home, you totally forget and it feels like it just took a few months.
“I would advise talking to people who have adopted, keep reading lots of books and keep remembering that the process may feel tough at times, but it is totally worth it. You have the opportunity to transform the lives of any children you adopt, and to make your dreams come true at the same time.”
Nicola* and her husband Mike* adopted Amelia*, who has cerebal palsy, when she was 18 months old through PACT.
Nicola, who is a teacher, said she definitely felt that her professional experience had helped her become an adoptive parent.
“Having worked with children for many years, from a variety of backgrounds, I had a good understanding of children’s needs and child development. I had also seen so many children change in such a positive way when they get the right teacher. I felt I could relate this to parenting.
“I had a good understanding of the need to have firm, fair boundaries for children and I understood children thrive with clear routine that is based on love and respect. Working in a school helped me develop the patience I needed to help our child through the tough times, and to understand all children can change for the better when they know you believe in them.”
Nicola added that her understanding and awareness of the systems that surround children, especially children with additional needs, had also really helped when they needed to get support for Amelia.
Jill* and her husband Sean* adopted William* through PACT when he was 16 months.
The couple had two older birth children following IVF treatment but really wanted another child. They had always been open to the idea of adopting, having previously considered it. They decided to adopt, and given Jill’s experience as a special needs teacher of many years, they were keen to adopt a child with additional needs. Jill said: “It just seemed like the obvious, right thing for us to do.”
The couple chose to adopt through PACT because of the post-placement support the agency offered, as they knew they would likely need this if they did adopt a child with special needs.
Jill said her professional experience had helped, certainly initially when reading William’s profile and understanding what the realities of his condition might mean in practical terms.
Talking about meeting their son William for the first time Jill said: “I work with children and know I can strike up a rapport with kids really well but it has never mattered as much before. But he liked us, and his foster carer was brilliant, she made it as easy as possible for him and us.
“He was so cute, just adorable. I’ve got a big smile on my face now just remembering it.”
William settled really well with the family, and has made fantastic progress since being placed with them.
“At 16 months he wasn’t even sitting up, we were told he might not walk or talk. He’s come on massively and is now walking and talking, and goes to a mainstream school with one-to-one support.
“It has been a huge team effort, with lots of support from physiotherapists and speech therapists, but we know that if he had stayed in care he wouldn’t be where he is now.
“Being a parent to a child with special needs is completely different to teaching a child with special needs. “Yes, it can be hard work and you have to be realistic about that, but he just has an incredible ability to live life in the moment. “
Elaine* and her husband Joe* adopted three siblings, all under four years old, through PACT
Elaine has been a police officer for 13 years, specialising as a detective. She said this role, and other cases she dealt with as an officer, had given her a real insight into family life when things go wrong, and how children can be at risk.
“I dealt with many situations that would open your eyes to the world and understand how adoption has become the only option for a child.”
Elaine said her professional experience and training had really helped her deal with the initial stages of the adoption process, but also in understanding how important it was for children to have a stable and secure start to their life.
She urged anyone considering adoption to find out more, adding: “It is not for everyone but might actually be for you and the results will surprise you. Children deserve to have a safe, loving home and can give you and your family so much.
“We have had our lives enriched by three fabulous babies and our entire network of friends and family have learnt and embraced adoption through our journey. Parenting is tricky for everyone, don’t be scared, enjoy it!”
PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “While there is no such thing as a typical adopter we know from our many years’ experience of matching children with permanent and loving families that people who work in a caring profession very often have the experience, skills and qualities to make excellent adopters.
“Having said that we are always very happy to hear from anyone, whatever their profession, who can offer love, stability and security to a child who needs this – this is always what matters most.
“At PACT we work with adopters who are single and married, people who have birth or step-children, or don’t have children, as well as those of different sexualities and religions.”
PACT holds regular information events where anyone considering adoption can find out more about what’s involved in the adoption process and hear from an adopter about their own experiences.
Currently these events are online and free to attend but please do book a place in advance by calling the friendly enquiries team on 0300 456 4800.
You can also find out more about PACT and its adoption services at www.pactcharity.org
*Names changed for confidentiality purposes