The UK National Adoption Week will include focus on adults affected by adoption. Supporters of Birthlink and all adults separated by adoption would be forgiven for smacking their foreheads and saying “Well, duh”. But, nevertheless, praise where praise is due.
For example, the London-based PAC-UK adoption agency ran workshops including The voices and stories of adopted people: Identity and relationships, The voices and stories of birth families: The importance of connection and relationships in adoption, Bringing together the voices and art of birth parents and Adoption roundtable. This roundtable event brought together two adopted people, two birth parents and two adoptive parents to look for common ground and understanding of each other’s perspective and to reflect on some of the big issues in adoption.
The themes of the PAC-UK workshops are as integral to adoption as the needs of children. After all, adopted children become adopted adults and as we regularly point out, adoption is not a single event. Adoption is a life-long process. Families with children who are adopted will have many challenges but all families in adoption – adoptive families, birth parents and birth relatives of the adopted person, and adopted adults’ partners and children all grapple with the legacy of adoption.
In Scotland, our National Adoption Week is November 14-18 and activities include topics with adults’ concerns. The theme is Adoption: The connection with past, present and future family. This echoes the UK emphasis on all directly affected by adoption including friends and family but also those who work in the field. Amongst the activities already advertised one sticks out. An online conference is to be held on November 15 where the focus will be on Adoption: the connection with family, past, present and future. At the conference, research findings are to be presented by University of Edinburgh researcher Polly Cowan on adoption breakdown.
Among other things this will draw attention to the lack of information that we have on the number of adoption breakdowns. Tragic events where more often than not children come back into care but often without the knowledge of their birth parents. Findings from the Supporting Roots research on birth parents’ perspectives on after-adoption support will also be presented by Ariane Critchley from the University of Stirling. The conference thus brings together those concerned with children’s needs and those of us that have a focus on the needs of birth parents. The Conference’s sessions will be followed by a panel discussion with a Q&A on the theme of maintaining connections across past, present and future family.
Yet more activities of relevance to adults in adoption may appear during the November National Adoption Week and we mean to play our part. It just so happens that November 2022 marks our hundred and eleventh anniversary as a family focussed charity so we’ll be making the most of this too. Follow on us on social media and keep an eye on our charity shop windows.
Gary Clapton, Honorary Fellow, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh