An image of a four-year-old boy taken by celebrity photographer Mary McCartney was illuminated on London's City Hall at the weekend to mark the start of National Adoption Week which began on Monday (October 19).
Despite the closure earlier this year of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), this year's National Adoption Week, which carries the theme "Too Old at 4", has continued as planned and is being managed by First4Adoption.
It aims to draw attention to the children waiting longest for adoptive families whose average age is just four years. The organisation says older children waiting to be adopted are often likely to be in sibling groups or to have additional needs and there is currently a shortage of adoptive parents coming forward for these children. There is also an urgent need to find homes for young boys of BME heritage.
"Sadly, sibling groups, those with complex needs and children from black and minority ethnic families are among the children waiting longest to be adopted. During National Adoption Week 2015 local authorities, adoption agencies, and all of us who work in adoption, will be working together to highlight the plight of these vulnerable children and to help them find forever families."
The ACP is backing this year's National Adoption Week and many of its members work to support adopted children, young people and their families across the country. The ACP believes that working together is key and taking the time to build long-lasting and meaningful relationships. We strive to help overcome the stigma that many adopted children and young people face, believing that "adoption is not an illness".
Young people who work with our members tell us:
I liked being … . understood, the reasons for being like I was, rather than giving me a label. I didn’t want a label or a jar of pills. Being adopted isn’t an illness…..”
The main thing for me was getting a service when I needed it, having someone who listened to me and understood me and adoption, they knew what I was talking about. Previously I’d waited months for an appointment, only to be told what was wrong with me, rather than giving me the time and space to explain - tell my own story.”
“ I don’t usually tell my friends I have mental health problems because they wouldn’t understand. Everyone expects us all to have had a similar start in life. Educating people about being different - different kinds of families and different kinds of “normal” is really important to us as adopted young people. That’s where stigma comes from - not understanding each other or being willing to listen - properly.”