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 1911. Last year it placed 78 children with 56 families through its adoption services.
PACT is a warm, welcoming and professional agency open to a wide range of people including couples or single people, people from Black, mixed and minority ethnic backgrounds and LGBT+ people. In particular, PACT is looking for people who can consider adopting children who wait the longest in care such as children aged over four years old, sibling groups of two or more children, children from Black, mixed or minority ethnic backgrounds and children who may have physical or learning disabilities.
Nicola* and her husband Mike* adopted Amelia*, who has cerebral 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 or completing PACT’s online enquiry form.
*Names changed for confidentiality purposes