A Place Called Home

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Worrying Decline of Ethnic Minority Adopters and the Impact on Children

As the New Year beckons, children all over the United Kingdom are still looking for a home. The 3rd of November marks the start of National Adoption Week, and with latest figures showing the dismal situation, we look at how dire the situation really is.

Worrying statistics released by leading adoption charity, Adoption UK show that only 2% of Ethnic Minority children had been adopted, compared to 84% of their white counterparts. These statistics are worrying as they show White children are more likely to be adopted than Asian or Black children, along with this they also show the rapid decrease on the number of overall children being adopted fell by 5%.

Education Secretary, Michael Gove, outlined plans to change the current policies which urged Social Service authorities to place children with prospective parents as soon as possible, regardless of their ethnicity. The current guiding principle allows Social Service authorities to be more flexible when choosing individuals that match their ethnic backgrounds.

Announcing the plans, Mr Gove alongside Children’s Minister Tim Loughton, called the current system “politically correct”. “Thousands of children are currently in the care system waiting to be adopted. Every day they wait is a day they’re denied the loving home all children deserve. But politically correct attitudes and ridiculous bureaucracy keep many of those children waiting far too long. Edicts which say children have to be adopted by families with the same ethnic background and which prevent other families adopting because they don’t fit left- wing prescriptions are denying children the love they need.

As a result children from ethnic minority backgrounds languish in care for longer than other kids and are denied the opportunities they deserve. This misguided nonsense punishes those who most need our help and that is why this government is sweeping it away”.

Charity organisations and adoption agencies have reacted positively to the news, with a distinct understanding and acceptance that the changes planned will have a positive effect on the lives on thousands of children currently in the adoption system. A statement from the British Association of Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) Chief Executive, David Holmes said the new plans would “break down barriers in the current system. “We welcome the Government’s firm commitment to adoption and in particular the publication of this timely new guidance, which we contributed to extensively.

It is important to recognise that there is much good practice already in adoption although this is not always uniformly applied. The challenge is to ensure that every agency builds on best practice to ensure that no child is deprived of a loving adoptive home.

Adoption provides very clear benefits to children in very vulnerable circumstances – we must all ensure that whenever a child needs adoption that that plan is realised without delay.”

One couple who have been through the adoption process, adopting mixed raced children, say that they would do it all again. Carl and Jenna Bradshaw have gone through two adoptions, from adopting two children a boy and a girl below the age of five. The boy, Edward, is White, with the girl, Yasmin, being of an Ethnic Minority background. Jenna says it was scary at first, but when she saw her children she knew they had made the right decision. Asked what advice she would give individuals that were looking to adopt, she said, “My advice to black and mixed race families, couples and individuals considering adoption is not to worry about the assessment process because without it you wouldn’t get your child. Enjoy the ride; make friends with other people that you meet at the adoption preparation training. Because they will go through the exact same experience with you and will be able to provide endless and ongoing empathy and support.

And be patient, because at first the child will come into your home and then in to your heart. You can’t expect to love someone you don’t know immediately. You can only love the idea of having your child, but throughout the course of you meeting and them moving in, it’s when that child really needs you for the first time that you will see your unconditional love for them. Like when Kane first went to the doctors and they said ‘I’m sorry we are going to have to call an ambulance’. My heart stopped! You know right then and there that that is your child and you would do anything for them.”

Merton Council in London is one council which endorses the idea of duel heritage adoptions. The council has been working together with local charities and community members to get the best possible results for the children and the families involved. A spokesperson on behalf of Merton Council said,” A Merton we welcome black and dual-heritage couples and individuals who are interested in adoption. By providing supportive and stable homes individuals will help black and dual heritage children grow into morally strong, positively grounded individuals who will move into adolescence and adulthood with an increased self-confidence and a strong sense of self-worth. We have no preconceived ideas about the ‘perfect family’. You could be single, married, living together, a parent, childless, an older couple, gay or lesbian. You may be unemployed or in work and you do not have to own your own home. Anyone suitable will be considered so long as you can meet the needs of an adopted child, are medically fit, aged over 21 years and have a spare bedroom. By showing an understanding of cultural traditions and sensitivities in these communities, the adoption service at Merton hope finds families for all our waiting children quickly, and consequently we will prioritise the assessment of any suitable black or mixed heritage individual or couple wishing to adopt”.

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