The #YouCanAdopt Black adopter campaign has relaunched across the West Midlands to encourage Black adults to consider adopting local Black children, who are overrepresented in the care system in England.
Nationally, Black children make up 8% of those waiting to find permanent homes. They also wait longer to be adopted than white children.
The national campaign aims to address this issue by removing misconceptions and barriers that might be preventing Black people from adopting, and help them realise you can adopt, for example:
· If you are single or in a relationship but unmarried
· If you are over 45 (there is no upper age limit)
· If you work full-time/are unemployed
While it is not mandatory for children to be matched with adoptive parents who share the same ethnicity, many adoptive parents tend to seek children who share a similar history and heritage so a low number of Black adopters is one reason more Black children remain in the social care system. The lack of Black adopters, and finding permanent families for children of Black and mixed-heritage backgrounds is a challenge faced by many adoption agencies in the West Midlands and across England as a whole.
Melissa Rose, operations manager for the Hub at ACE, an adoption agency that covers Coventry, Herefordshire, Solihull, Warwickshire and Worcestershire, says: “Children and adopters who are Black African and Black Caribbean or dual heritage tend to be from Coventry and Solihull where there is a higher population of families from these backgrounds. The number of children who have a plan of adoption from the Black communities is higher than the number of adoptive parents we have from those communities, therefore these children tend to wait longer for their adoptive families to be matched than other children within the region.”
Other challenges arise from Black potential adopters believing they are not eligible to adopt because of their age, housing arrangements, sexual orientation, relationship status or finances. In addition to misconceptions about who can adopt, potential adopters can also be put off by not realising the extent of support they receive while navigating the adoption process and once they become adoptive parents.
Rose says: “We support our adoptive families for a minimum of 12 months after the adoption order has been granted. Any adoption support after the 12 months transfers to our Spoke teams who provide adoption support to our adoptive families.”
Jennifer, who is of Black Caribbean heritage and has adopted two boys who are not related by birth, admits the process can at times feel too detailed, but as someone who has successfully gone through it twice, she’s certain it was all worth it, and says: “Becoming a parent is the best thing I have ever done.”
The You Can Adopt Black adopters campaign aims to help break down barriers that stop potential adopters from the Black community coming forward, bridge the gap between adoption agencies and potential adopters and demystify the adoption process. As part of the campaign, Adoption street teams spoke with around 3,000 Black community members and businesses across key areas in the West Midlands over the last three few weeks, who strongly welcomed information about adopting in the community. Many said that bringing adoption to the forefront of the Black community would normalise it, so that people "are not judged in society and more people will want to do it. At the moment, it is not seen as something 'normal' to do, as you are judged if you do not have your own."
The #YouCanAdopt recruitment campaign is being delivered by a cross-sector of regional adoption agencies, voluntary adoption agencies and other key adoption stakeholders in England.