Truth be told: Adoption stories

Truth be told: Adoption stories,

One of the best ways to inspire people to adopt is by sharing success stories of those that have been there and done it.

Truth be told: Adoption stories, a podcast from the National Adoption Service aims to be an informative resource that features a group of adopters discussing their shared experiences together.

Truth be told: Adoption stories is available in both Welsh and English and features 10 adopters from across Wales discussing a different adoption topic each week – from the first steps to postadoption support. Stories range from same sex adopters and single adopters to older adopters and sibling adopters.

No one knew each other before the meeting but within moments it is like listening to old friends talk. They laugh together, they cry together.

Truth be told: Adoption stories is invaluable whether you’ve already adopted, are looking to start the process or just interested in different ways of starting a family. Listen to the podcast here:


Truth be told: Adoption stories, Wales’ first adoption podcast from the National Adoption Service, follows the journey of 10 adopters with very different experiences brought together to share their stories with each other – from their first steps to adoption to post-adoption support.

Register for a lunchtime webinar to hear more honest stories and tips from adopters and adoption workers across Wales

What is the Adoption Barometer?

The Adoption Barometer, published by charity Adoption UK, is the largest survey of adopters in the UK. This year’s report found that Wales has made significant progress since last year’s Barometer, with three Welsh policies scoring ‘good’. We are pleased to have this progress acknowledged and would like to thank the staff in the National Adoption Service across the country for their continued hard work.

Here, Rebecca Brooks, Education Policy Advisor at Adoption UK and author of the report, explains more about the survey and its findings.

We started the Adoption Barometer last year to generate a snapshot of the adoption world and receive feedback on what adoption is like for families across the UK, from the first enquiry right up to families who have children up to age 25. We use the survey results to see what the experiences of adoptive families are like across the four nations, and how they’re being impacted by each nation’s policy and legislation.

This year’s survey was sent out in January and closed in March, and we saw almost 5,000 responses from people across the UK, which is an increase on 40% on last year. The survey gets sent out to Adoption UK members, as well as on social media and through adoption organisations in the UK such as the National Adoption Service. We are so thankful for all the families that took the time to complete the survey, and as always, we hope they will help to positively shape the future of adoption in the UK.

When the survey closes, we then look at the enormous amount of data that we receive. It’s fascinating to see what responses we get and is a chance for us to understand what issues adoptive families in the UK are facing throughout the adoption process. We try to use the results to shape our advocacy and campaigning work to ensure we are listening to people’s feedback. For example, last year we found that 80% of respondents said that education was a big factor for them as parents. This gave added impetus to our national education campaign and showed that the campaign was well needed for adoptive families.

We also share our data with each nation, so that if adoptive families in certain areas are highlighting a specific issue, we will incorporate that into our service delivery in that nation but also see what advice and support we can give to agencies.

A big area of the barometer is assessing and scoring the policies that regulate adoption in each nation. It’s important to mention that when scoring these policies, we look at the policy and legislation framework for each nation and use that to develop assessment criteria. We then review the survey results and use all this information to score each area.

From all four nations in the UK, we found that Welsh policies scored best, with three areas scoring ‘good’. Respondents in Wales were also considerably more positive about their experiences in accessing support during 2019 than they were the previous year.

We are pleased to see improvements in some areas across the UK such as the large amount of funding given by the Welsh Government for adoption support in Wales, but it is clear that there is still a way to go before every adoptive family is getting the support they need to thrive. We look forward to continuing our work to improve the adoption sector in the UK.

For the full report findings, click here:

The Adoption Barometer

Wales comes out top in UK wide adoption survey, but more support still needed for vulnerable children, report finds

Alongside identifying an improving picture in many respects there is still evidence that the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children are being affected by missed opportunities to provide them with timely and adequate support, a new report reveals today.  

The Adoption Barometer, published by charity Adoption UK, describes the dramatic impact the right support can have. Now in its second year, the Barometer is based on the biggest ever survey of adopters. This year, 5,000 people responded to the survey, 361 of which were in Wales.   

The Adoption Barometer also assesses the government policies that regulate adoption. Welsh policies scored best, with three areas of policy scoring ‘good’ – Approvals and Matching, Newly Placed Adopters and Established Families. Policy relating to finding families for children scored best across the board.

However, all nations scored poorly in at least one area of policy. Policy relating to Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) scored worst, with all nations assessed as ‘poor’, and adopter experiences of children with or suspected FASD was also ‘poor’ in all nations. 

There has been progress in Wales since last year’s Barometer, building on the improvement seen since Wales implemented its National Adoption Service (NAS). In June 2019, there was a £2.3m investment in adoption services by the Welsh Government. In partnership with third sector organisations some of this funding is being used to provide new services including the Therapeutic Education and Support Services in Adoption (TESSA) and a new young people’s service. Respondents in Wales were considerably more positive about their experiences of accessing support during 2019 than they were the previous year.

One of the main themes to emerge across the UK is the failure in diagnosing and treating brain damage caused by children being exposed to alcohol in the womb. The report reveals more than one-in-four adopted children in Wales (28%) are either diagnosed with or suspected to have FASD. 53% of families polled in Wales had waited two years or longer for a diagnosis, and 68% felt healthcare professionals lacked even basic knowledge about the condition, even though FASD is more common in the general population than autism.  

Adoptive mother Joanne, from South Wales, said: “We were told our son may have FASD when he came to us at four, but were told we’d never get a diagnosis as he did not have the associated facial features. He soon became violent and aggressive. He’d erupt for two hours every night when we put him to bed. He’d throw things, hit, kick, scratch. I’ve had three black eyes and I’ve got a scar on my chin from being hit with a candle. We saw GPs, Child Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), a neuro developmental team and a child psychiatrist before a doctor finally diagnosed our son with FASD. We were discharged the same day without the offer of any support.” 

Around three-quarters of adopted children experienced violence, abuse or neglect while living with their birth families, often with life-long impacts on their relationships, their health and their ability to learn. Despite the considerable challenges, the report shows that adopters in Wales remain positive and resilient – 75% would encourage others to consider adoption.

But failures in policy and practice and missed opportunities to intervene mean that problems often build into a crisis. Almost than half (48%) of families with older children report severe challenges, such as being drawn into criminally exploitative behaviour, including child sexual exploitation and county lines activities. The vast majority (66%) of respondents from Wales with school aged children anticipate they will leave school with few or no qualifications because they lacked the right support.  

Author of the report Becky Brooks said: “It is morally and economically imperative that adoptive families are given the right support from day one. Yet 68% of new adoptive families who responded to the survey had no support plan in place. The cost to the child, the wider family and society when an adoptive family falls apart, is unacceptable.” 

Suzanne Griffiths, National Adoption Service for Wales Director, said: “The Barometer is a welcome sense check from adoptive families as to where we are as a service. The findings encouragingly identify that improvements have been made. They also reflect where we know there is more work to be done, specifically access to adoption support and services for adopted children and young people.

“We have made significant investment into these areas over the past year with the support of £2.3m adoption support fund from Welsh Government and we look forward to future reports to see the impact this makes.

“Overall, there are some very positive messages in the report to celebrate and we are pleased to see that adoption in Wales is in a good place in terms of its improvement journey. This is exactly what NAS was set up to achieve.”

The Adoption Barometer calls on the governments in all four nations of the UK to provide detailed therapeutic assessments for every child before they arrive in their new family, with up to date support plans to be maintained into early adulthood.