Dad speaks on Father’s Day about amazing experience of adopting

An adoptive dad of two has spoken of the privilege he feels watching his children bloom and grow.

Alex* has described becoming a father as a ‘totally new and amazing kind of joy’, and on Father’s Day is encouraging more men to consider adoption.

Through Adoption Mid and West Wales, Alex is telling his story in the hope that it will inspire.

The service supports families and individuals along every step of the adoption journey, matching children with people who can provide them with a loving, safe and stable family life.

For Alex and his wife, their decision to adopt came after unsuccessful fertility treatment which led them to reflect on their family plans.

Reaching out to their local authority adoption team, the couple were matched with a little boy just over a year from making their first enquiry.

“We had always talked about adoption as a possible route to starting a family,” he said. “We did try a round of IVF when it was clear we couldn’t conceive naturally, but after that was unsuccessful we took some time out to reflect.

“We started the process in January. We had a pretty normal year whilst going through the process – went to work as usual, went to festivals, on holiday, spent time with family and friends – and fitted meetings with social workers and courses in between.

“We did try to read up as much we could and attended extra courses and training outside of the ones organised by the local authority. We had the approval panel in December and after being successful there we didn’t have too long to wait before a match was found.

“We didn’t specify what gender we wanted our child to be, but the local authority did a very good job of finding a child that matched our lifestyle and profiles.

“We all have ways of finding our own joy, but becoming a father was a totally new and amazing kind of joy that I hadn’t experienced before.”

Such was their positive experience, that two years later Alex and his wife decided to adopt again.

“It was a more straightforward process second time around, as we knew what to expect,” he said. “We had a different social worker who hadn’t worked with second time adopters before, so she was a bit surprised at our level of confidence!”

Alex now confesses to be ‘the world’s biggest adoption bore’ and says adoption has been a positive experience with an amazing ending.

“Having spent many years without children in my life and finding joy in many other ways, I try hard not to make out that people without children are somehow inferior, but it is an utter privilege to be able to provide two children with a safe and secure environment to watch them blossom and grow as amazing human beings.

“To anyone considering adoption I would advise to go into it with your eyes open as there will be issues that will crop up that you may not have thought of, but stick with it – at the end of the day these are children we are talking about not bug-eyed monsters!

“There are lots of support groups for adoptive mums, but very little for dads, so if the opportunity comes up to go for a beer with an adoptive dad then take it – you will find out that adoption is way more normal and commonplace than you think! Oh, and if you have access to the Apple TV channel then watch ‘Trying’. A very funny and fairly accurate summing up of the whole process!”

This Father’s Day – weather permitting – Alex and his family are going camping.

“The relationship I had with my own father was a lot more traditional, so I am trying to be a lot more open and loving with my children. When I spend time with my friends who are also dads, I don’t feel any different to them – I love my children unconditionally and I’m extremely proud of them.”

Adoption Mid and West Wales is a dedicated service that supports adoptive families to come together.

The team recruits, trains and assesses prospective adopters to provide high-quality adoptive placements for local children and young people, enabling them to live with permanent new families.

There is no set criteria to becoming an adoptive parent – it doesn’t matter whether prospective adopters already have children, whether they’re single or a couple (straight or LGBT+), whether they’re married, unmarried or in a civil partnership.

Children are matched and placed with adoptive parents who are assessed as being able to provide a stable and nurturing environment and have the skills to meet the needs of the children.

Ongoing support is provided to adopters and their families throughout the adopted child’s life.

Locally,there is a need for adopters from a variety of backgrounds so children can be placed with families and individuals who share their own culture, language and religion.

Anyone interested in finding out more can visit adoptionmwwales.org.uk for advice and information.

An online information session is being held on Wednesday, July 21, 2021, at 6.30pm – register before Friday, July 16, 2021.

Enquiries can also be made with a member of the adoption team – email adoptionenquiries@carmarthenshire.gov.uk or call 0300 30 32 505.

* Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children

What kind of Superhero are you?

Children are the unsung heroes of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Can you show us what you would look like as a Superhero? What kind of Superhero would you like to be?

You can do this by making a drawing, a painting, a collage, a comic, a short film or through photography. Maybe you’d rather show us by creating a 3D model using mixed materials, playdough or clay. You could even create your own costume or make a puppet using different materials.

Age Groups

  • Under 4 years
  • Ages 4 – 7
  • Ages 8 – 11
  • Ages 12 – 15
  • Ages 16 – 18

All participants will receive a £10 voucher.

Prizes

Winners from each age group will win a day entry to an attraction of their choice.

Closing Date

Friday, 2nd July 2021

To enter please complete an entry form and send your entries to us electronically via our website.

Guidelines & Rules

  • One entry per child/ young person.
  • Entries must be submitted by 5pm on Friday, 2nd July 2021. Please send you entries in any of the following formats: pdf, jpeg, doc, mp3, m4a, mp4, wmv or avi.
  • All submissions must be completed by the child or the young person.
  • All participants will receive a voucher to the value of £10. A postal address must be provided on the entry form.
  • Winners will be chosen by a panel of judges and announced on the 23rd of July 2021.
  • Winners will receive their prize shortly after the 23rd of July 2021.

What kind of Superhero are you?

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We would like to exhibit your child’s work on our website and social media pages as well as within our Celebrating Life Journey Work ceremony during National Adoption Week 2021. We will anonymise any personal details that are shown within the work. Please tick the relevant box/es below if you do consent to this. I give consent for Adoption Mid & West Wales :
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Adoption Barometer

Adoption UK’s 2021 Survey

Take part in the 2021 Barometer Survey. Adoption UK need your responses to help contribute to a flagship report on Adoption in the UK, which will be published this summer. 

Whether you are a prospective adopter, or many years along in your adoption journey, Adoption UK want to hear your views. This is a thorough survey, so please take your time, and complete each section as fully as possible.

This survey is repeated every year so that they can build up a picture of how things are changing over time. Please focus only on your experiences during 2020. 

What is the Adoption Barometer?

The Adoption Barometer is the only comprehensive assessment of the lives of adoptive families across the UK – and the policies that govern adoption. Now in its second year, the Barometer explores families’ experiences throughout the adoption journey, from prospective adopters to those whose children are now young adults. 

It’s based on the biggest ever survey of adopters – in 2020, nearly 5,000 people responded. 

What impact does it have? 

Since their 2019 report, progress has been seen – In Wales there’s been a £2.3m investment in adoption services. 

The report shows that adopters remain positive and resilient –73% would encourage others to adopt. But families are still struggling to get the support they need and deserve.  

One of the main themes to emerge from this year’s report is the failure in diagnosing and treating brain damage caused by children being exposed to alcohol in the womb. The report reveals that one-in-four adopted children are either diagnosed with, or suspected to have, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). 

More Information 

50% off Adoption UK’s Family Membership

We are offering 50% off Adoption UK’s Family Membership for all new members within the Mid and West Wales region. Join Adoption UK as a family member and become part of a community that cares passionately about adoption. The Family membership is for adoptive parents and prospective adopters.

What’s included in the Family Membership?

Support and advice

Information and resources 

  • Adoption Today bi-monthly magazine full of adoption news, resources and insight.
  • Member-only resources including a video library of webinars and a host of useful fact-sheets on topics such as adoption leave, attachment and parenting teens.
  • Adoption UK lending library which contains hundreds of books, videos and therapeutic games.
  • Blogs and vlogs that delve into a range of relevant and topical issues.

Offers and discounts

For further information or to join please email adoptiontraining@carmarthenshire.gov.uk

Evaluation of the Adoption Support Framework (Wales)

You are being invited to take part in a research study.

The Institute of Public Care (IPC) at Oxford Brookes University has been asked by Welsh Government and the National Adoption Service to evaluate the impact of the national Adoption Support Framework.

The evaluation will run from 2020 to 2021 and will help to better understand what kind of support works for families in different circumstances.

You have been invited to participate along with all other adoptive parents in Wales (we are aiming for a sample of at least 300). With your consent, the evaluation will involve participating in an online survey of your experiences of seeking and getting help, and the impact of any support received on you and your family. The survey will take approximately 20 minutes to complete.

The findings will be written up into at least one report to be published on-line by the National Adoption Service for Wales and by Welsh Government. They may also subsequently be published in a relevant research journal.

At no stage will the identity of participating families or family members be revealed, either directly or indirectly, in reporting.

At no stage will researchers at IPC share your name, contact details or any other information that might reveal your identity. The only exception to this is if, based on something you share, researchers believe someone is at risk of harm. All of the information shared by you will be stored safely for the duration of the evaluation and destroyed safely 1 year after the final report is published.

It is up to you to decide whether or not to take part in the research. You are also free to withdraw at any time up until the point that the data is analysed, without giving a reason. This will not affect in any way the support you might receive in the future or your legal rights.

The research study has been approved by the Oxford Brookes University Research Ethics Committee. If you would like any further information about the evaluation or have any questions or concerns about it or would like to make a complaint, please contact Katy Burch who is the lead evaluator at the Institute of Public Care on 01225484088 or kburch@brookes.ac.uk. If you have any concerns about the way in which the study is being conducted, you should contact the chair of the University ethics committee at ethics@brookes.ac.uk.

If you have started the survey but not yet finished it, please do so as soon as you can and before 25th November at the latest. If you decided to ‘save and continue later’, you should have received an automatically generated Smart Survey email with a link back into it. If you can’t find the email, it may have gone into your spam folder by accident – perhaps worth checking there.

If you haven’t yet started the survey but would like to do so, please click on the link below.

https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/AdoptionSupportWalesFamilySurvey/

The survey will close on 25th November 2020

2 Vacant Posts – Independent Panel Member

AN OPPORTUNITY TO JOIN THE MID & WEST WALES ADOPTION JOINT PANEL AS AN INDEPENDENT PANEL MEMBER – 2 VACANT POSTS

Has your life been touched by Adoption?  If the answer is YES, then you may be interested in becoming an Independent Panel Member for 1 day per month. 

Powys County Council is seeking to appoint an independent member to the Mid & West Wales Joint Adoption Panel for a tenure of four years.

The Adoption Panel makes recommendations as to whether individuals or couples are suitable to adopt a child and makes recommendations for matches between children with a plan of adoption and prospective adopters.

You must be responsible, trustworthy, and be able to read and absorb a great deal of comprehensive written information.  You should have personal experience of adoption and although Adoption Panel is currently online, be able to travel to Adoption Panels in Llandrindod Wells and Brecon. A payment of £150 per Adoption panel to include reading time and panel attendance.

For If you are interested  please email Claire Phillips Adoption Team Manager (Powys) claire.phillips@powys.gov.uk and she will arrange an informal discussion which will be followed by an interview. 

Closing date  30.11.2020                                           

Appointment is subject to interview.

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: www.adoptcymru.com/podcast

Podcast

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 https://bit.ly/3d3rLmp.

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.  

Your views about adoption support

The Institute of Public Care at Oxford Brookes University has recently been appointed to evaluate the impact of the Adoption Support Framework across Wales. A key part of the evaluation involves seeking the views of all adoptive parents about the accessibility and quality of adoption support including whether and to what extent it has improved in recent years.

They will be seeking your views through a survey (to be launched in October this year) and, if you are interested, a follow up interview. Participation is completely voluntary and we will send more information about the evaluation and a link to the survey in the next few weeks.