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For most, Mothering Sunday is a simple annual event to celebrate Mum.

It’s a day that has special resonance for adoptive Mums and their children.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted today will previously have suffered abuse or neglect with their birth family so parenting them can be tough but also hugely rewarding and inspiring.

The bond between adoptive parents and their children is often extraordinary, with love and admiration on both sides.

But Mother’s Day is a celebration which can prove complicated as adopted children have complex feelings about their birth parents.

Adoption UK wants to celebrate adoptive Mums across the UK by shining a light on their commitment, love and resilience - and who better to provide this testimony than adoptees themselves?

In a letter to her adoptive mother Jane, university worker Polly, who lives in London but grew up in Yorkshire and Lancashire, writes: As an adopted daughter I came to you with a warning label – I was not thriving. I was expected to have educational and emotional difficulties. Before you were even able to hold your baby in your arms, you had been told that your baby was broken.

This didn’t matter to you. From that first moment that you looked into my eyes we finally had what we both needed: a family. You devoted every second of your life from that day to fixing what you had been told by professionals might be unfixable. Against every expectation I didn’t just begin to thrive, I began to achieve.

Polly’s letter continues: I could not be even a fraction of the person I am today without your love, dedication and incredible belief in me. All the best parts of me, of my character and my personality, are down to you and and the great example you have always set for me.

Her letter concludes: Thirty-seven years on, that baby who was not thriving has a Master’s degree, a job in a university, a wonderful husband; she has travelled to five continents, sung in the Royal Albert Hall and even dabbled in stand-up comedy.

19-year-old Megan Alston, from London, writes to her mother Regina: You’re my Mum you lie with me until I fall back to sleep after I’ve had a nightmare. There are no secrets between us. No problem I’m afraid to share.

You might have missed my first word and you didn’t get to see me take my first steps, but those aren’t the things that make you my mother. It’s the way you call me when I’m home late, make soup for me when I’m poorly. One day I hope I can adopt too and give my children the wonderful life you’ve given me.

Daniel Coole,from Cheshire, writes to his adoptive mother Jan: Mother’s Day is a stark reminder for some of us. But then, you remember that something incredible happened when you were at the most vulnerable stage of your life. In walked somebody who cares for you, who protects you and who nurtures you, and the best part of it all? It was all by choice.

A mum is the person we reach out for when we fall over. It’s the face we search for in the crowd during the school plays. It’s the taxi driver who just wants to make sure we get to our destination safely. It is the person who knows us better than we know ourselves. 

Daniel goes on to write: Thank you for giving up a part of your world to ensure that I could have the best shot at this thing called life. Thank you for showing me the way every time I get lost on this journey. Thank you for being my best friend. Thank you for being so brave and selfless to ensure that I was happy and safe. Thank you for allowing me to grow into my own person whilst cheering my triumphs from the side-lines.

The letter ends: I am sorry for the times I told you that you could never be my mum. It was never about you or your parenting skills. It was about me being confused and frustrated. You always have been, and you always will be, my mum.

In a letter to her mother Jane, the West End performer Shona White, who lives in London but grew up in Fife, Scotland, writes: …what you (and Dad of course) did for me all those years ago was the best thing that ever happened to me.

You have supported me in all my hopes and dreams and helped me achieve success in my chosen career and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Thank you for putting up with me through the more challenging times and for all the happy memories we have created together.

Olympic silver medallist and former World Champion Jamie Baulch, from South Wales, writes to his mother Marilyn: Words can’t describe how amazing you are. You have helped me throughout the whole of my life. You have given me opportunities that I wouldn’t have had if I weren’t with you. You have guided me throughout my whole life. My athletics career would never have happened if it wasn’t for your support, love, guidance and attention. I owe you everything and I love you with all my heart.

And BMX champion and Hollywood actor John Buultjens who grew up in Glasgow and Dundee but now lives in California, writes to his mother Marianna: To say you have been such an inspiration in my life, is an understatement, you are so much more. I am very thankful that you choose me to be your son, back in 1982.

Around three-quarters of children who are adopted in the UK today will have entered the care system because of the severe neglect and/or abuse they experienced with their birth parents.

Adoption gives these children, many of whom have complex needs, a second chance of experiencing enduring family relationships.

Adoptive parents provide stability, permanence, a new sense of identity and the love and nurture that all children need - as these letters eloquently demonstrate.

Adoption UK's purpose is to give voice to adoptive families and to ensure that the right support is there for them.

Anyone experiencing difficulties is urged to become a member of Adoption UK and contact our helpline: https://www.adoptionuk.org/one-one-support/helpline

People who are interested in becoming a foster carer are invited to meet the Fostering for Wolverhampton team at Molineux Stadium next week.

 

The event, on Tuesday 13 November from 6.30pm until 8pm, is an opportunity to find out more about this rewarding career, including the support and financial benefits available to people who take it on, and to speak directly to current foster carers about their experiences.

 

Foster families are helping to give hundreds of children in Wolverhampton the best possible start in life by offering them a supportive environment in a loving home.

 

But more foster carers are urgently needed as there are currently dozens of children waiting for a home, and the Fostering for Wolverhampton team are keen to hear from individuals and couples who want to make a difference to a local child.

 

Foster carers can be single, married or in a relationship – and they won't be on their own as help and support is available 24 hours a day. They will receive six months' “buddy support” from experienced foster carers who are there to help and guide them, while carers also receive a regular, tax-exempt fee and allowance to cover the cost of bringing up the child. The allowance starts from £383 to £440 per week depending on the child’s age.

 

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We are very lucky to have so many dedicated foster carers who combine a desire to help children with a commitment to providing the best possible care, but we have more youngsters who are looking for a home.

 

“Fostering can truly be a life-changing experience, both for foster carers and the young person they care for. We'd love to hear from people who have both a spare room and of course love in their heart to help local children by fostering.”

 

As well as attending Tuesday’s drop-in event, prospective foster carers can find out more by logging on to www.fosteringforwolverhampton.com or calling 01902 551133.

A cross-party group of MPs and Peers will push for change to ensure adoptive children and families receive the support they need. The new All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Adoption & Permanence will be chaired by Rachael Maskell MP.

Approximately three-quarters of adopted children are removed from their birth parents because of abuse and neglect. As a result of their early experiences, they are much more likely than their peers to struggle with education, relationships and employment.

Ms Maskell said: “This new APPG is a very important opportunity to advocate for some of the most vulnerable children in society and I am delighted to be leading it. Adopted children have had a very tough start in life and they deserve the attention of policy makers to ensure they are able to build a better future.”

As Chair of the APPG Ms Maskell went on to say: “I want to ensure that families receive the very support they need pre and post adoption, and will ensure that the APPG brings a laser focus to the challenges facing parents and children. Government has a crucial role in adopting global best practice and resourcing essential services to build strong, loving and resilient families, and the APPG on Adoption and Permanence will provide an important vehicle to take the voice of adopters, kinship carers and young people into Government.”

The APPG has determined a number of priorities for the group’s initial activities, one of which is the future of the Adoption Support Fund (ASF) – a central government fund which helps adoptive families to access therapy. Although the fund recently received an £12m boost, the government is currently only committed to it until March 2020. Research from 2017 revealed that a quarter of adoptive parents believe support funded by the ASF prevented their placement from breaking down and their children returning to care.

Charities Adoption UK and Home for Good will provide the secretariat support for the group, and are well-placed to engage adoptive families directly in the work of the APPG.

Adoption UK’s chief executive, Dr Sue Armstrong Brown said: “This APPG is sorely needed to serve our society’s most vulnerable children, ensuring their experiences inform political debate and policy development. Adoption is a long rehabilitation from trauma, lasting throughout childhood and beyond. We need a system which recognises this and delivers help for families whenever and for as long as they need it.”

Home for Good chief executive, Phil Green added: “Adopted children and their families deserve our very best. Home for Good is delighted to be supporting this APPG because we recognise that if we have grand ambitions for the lives of children, we need to have grand ambitions for services that exist to serve them.”

 

People interested in becoming foster carers can find out more about this vital role at a special Fostering Friday event today.

 

Members of the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Fostering for Wolverhampton team, along with foster care champions, will be at Costa Coffee in Dudley Street, Wolverhampton, from 10am until pm for an informal chat with anyone considering becoming a foster carer.

 

Foster families are helping to give scores of children in Wolverhampton the best possible future by offering them a supportive environment in a loving home.

 

But more foster carers are urgently needed as there are dozens of children waiting for a home, and the Fostering for Wolverhampton team are keen to hear from individuals and couples who want to make a difference to a local child.

 

Councillor Paul Sweet, the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We are very lucky to have so many dedicated foster carers who combine a desire to help children with a commitment to providing the best possible care, but we have more youngsters who are looking for a permanent foster home.

“Fostering can truly be a life-changing experience, both for foster carers and the young person they care for. We'd love to hear from people who have both a spare room and of course love in their heart to help local children by fostering.”

 

Foster carers can be sole carers, married or in a relationship – and they won't be on their own as help and support is available 24 hours a day. They will receive six months' “buddy support” from experienced foster carers who are there to befriend and guide them through the system.

 

Supervising social workers provide intensive support for the first six weeks of a placement and then every month thereafter, while foster carers can get help through a peer support network.

 

Placements can be anything from a few days to a number of years, and carers receive a regular, tax exempt fee and allowance to cover the cost of bringing up the child.

Wolverhampton has officially thanked dozens of dedicated foster carers for the vital work they do looking after vulnerable children and young people in the city.

 

The City of Wolverhampton Council's Fostering for Wolverhampton team recognised the service of 42 foster carers at the ‘For The Love of Fostering’ awards evening at the Ramada Park Hall Hotel.

 

Leslie and Kevin Clarke, Joanne and Mark Collier, Yulrette Elliott, Lisa and Philip Mann, Yvonne Taylor, Satbinder and Jarnail Bains, Balbir Kaur and Shinda Singh and Janice and Gerald Pickard were commended for completing 10 years’ service.

 

Awards for 15 years' service were presented to Carolyn and Gary Harper, Helen and Michael Holden and Victoria Smith. Christine and Ted Howard were commended for 20 years’ service. Gillian and Andrew Small received an award for 25 years’ service and Liz and Trevor Jones were commended for over 30 years’ service.

 

This year’s awards event also included eight special awards. The Teenage Foster Carer Award was won by Maureen Powell with Sharon Brown highly commended.

 

The Kinship Carer Award was won by Grace Wylde and highly commended were Dawn James, Carol Daley and Bina Hudim. The Permanency Carer Award was won by Deborah and Shaun Webb and highly commended were David and Louise Whatton.

 

The Baby and Primary Children Carer Award was won by Stephen Goodwin and highly commended were Julie Round and Helen and Kevin Terry. The Sibling Group Carer Award was won by Theresa and Brian Hayes and highly commended were Tracy Kenny and Brian Fraser, Bev Peart, Terrie Naylor, Nora Riley and Bina Hudim.

 

The New Foster Carer Award was won by Sally Parker and highly commended were Patricia Palmer-Newby, Sally Abbiss, Thomas Nkompela and Leona and Alex Stojanovic.

 

The Outstanding Commitment to Fostering Children with Disabilities Award was won jointly by Angela Elliott and Gemma Wright, and the final award, Outstanding Contribution to Fostering was won by Brian Saunders with Maureen Powell, Yvonne Taylor, Judith Bradley and Emma-Jane Kisby all highly commended.

 

The evening was opened by the Mayor of Wolverhampton Councillor Phil Page and awards were presented by the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Councillor Paul Sweet and Emma Bennett, Director of Children’s Services.

 

Councillor Sweet said: "We are very lucky to have so many fantastic foster carers in Wolverhampton who combine a desire to help children with a commitment to providing the best possible care and support for them.

 

“I was delighted to be able to present awards to these very special people and to have the opportunity to personally thank them for their efforts on behalf of our city's children and young people.

 

"I would urge anyone who has considered fostering to speak to our Fostering for Wolverhampton team to find out more about this life-changing role.”

 

Foster carers can be sole carers, married or in a relationship. Placements can be anything from a few days to a number of years, and they receive a regular, tax exempt allowance to cover the cost of bringing up the child.

 

Help and support is available from the Fostering for Wolverhampton team 24 hours a day, while first-time foster carers also receive six months' buddy support from experienced carers who are there to guide them through the system.

 

There are more than twice as many children waiting for families than there are adopters, new figures show.

The statistics reveal there are 1,135 children waiting to be adopted but just 407 families approved to adopt.

The shortfall in the number of adoptive parents is revealed at the start of National Adoption Week, which aims to inspire more people to adopt.

The new research, by Adoption Match and based on data from The Adoption Register for England*, also reveals that of the children awaiting adoption:

  • Almost a third (29%) are Black and Minority Ethnic children
  • 57% are boys
  • 55% are in sibling groups of two or more

Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, Adoption UK’s chief executive, said: “Children who are older, part of a sibling group, or have special needs are always harder to match – so there is an urgent need for families who can meet their needs.”

Adoption UK is also keen to debunk some of the common misconceptions around who can and cannot adopt.

Adoptive parents can be single or unmarried; gay, bisexual or transsexual; disabled, living on benefits; and while no upper age limit exists you do have to be aged 21 or older.

Adoption UK member Dr Peter McParlin was 59 when he and his husband, then aged 55, decided to adopt.

Dr McParlin said: “I was 60 when our six-year-old son came into our lives. He’s been with us for two years. Yes, it’s been challenging, but challenges can also keep you young. It’s also been hugely enjoyable, but it would be crass to say it’s easy-peasy. Our son has ADHD and has also had the awful experience of his first adoption disrupting.

“Would I recommend to folk in their late forties and older to embrace the challenge of adoption? I most certainly would, and so would my partner. I’m of the opinion that there are a good few thousand older people who could offer something invaluable to a child desperate for a home, and loving parents.”

Alex was the first transsexual to adopt from his local authority when his son Cassius, then aged 18 months, was placed with him three years ago. He said: “I always planned on adopting but assumed I’d do it as a couple. I didn’t imagine that transitioning could be a barrier but I assumed wrongly for a long time that a single man couldn’t adopt.

“In my day-to-day life I am a man and a father. No one questions either fact. I don’t come out as being trans, or an adopter, unless I want the other person to know, for a good reason.”

Alex’s message to members of the trans community considering adopting a child, is: “If you’ve transitioned and sorted out your own identity you’ve probably got a great deal of resilience and self-reliance. So if you’re up for another huge challenge and making a real difference to a child who needs supporting while working out their own identity, go for it! But bear in mind your life will completely change yet again, and like transition, there isn’t a way back.”

Paying tribute to today’s diverse range of adopters, Dr Armstrong Brown said: “When it comes to a child’s development, it’s not the sexual orientation, or gender, or age, or race of their parent(s) that’s important. Rather, the resilience of those individuals and the quality of the family relationships are what really matter.”

People who want to take the first step to adoption can start by contacting Adoption UK. There is a free helpline and membership provides expert advice, access to legal help and a range of fantastic offers on training, shopping and family activities.