In 2020, more than half of prospective adopters felt that Covid-19 restrictions had made their approvals process more difficult than it would otherwise have been. Almost half of new adoptive families had not received their child’s life story materials even though they had obtained the adoption order. Three quarters of established adoptive families faced challenges in 2020 and 61% requested adoption support from their agency. The proportion of adopted 16-25-year-olds accessing mental health services increased to 46%.

How do we know all of this? Because in early 2021, you responded to our Adoption Barometer survey in your thousands, providing a unique snapshot of the experiences of adoptive families across the UK.

Since its publication in June 2021, the Adoption Barometer 2021 has been studied by adoption professionals, sector leaders and members of government across the UK. It has been cited in government reports, speeches and parliamentary questions. Adoption UK has presented the results to decision makers in all nations, to Regional Adoption Agency leaders across England, to education professionals and social care professionals. The National Adoption Service has commissioned Welsh and English language versions of the Adoption Barometer 2021 that focus more closely on the adoption landscape in Wales.

Your responses to the Adoption Barometer shape the way we work for adoptive families at Adoption UK. The data, comments and case studies generously provided by adoptive families allow us to make your priorities our priorities. Our campaigning focus on education, mental health, FASD and adoption support is entirely driven by the feedback we get from the adoption community, as is the development of our support and community services for adoptive families.

Last year, we made a commitment to listen more closely to the voices of adopted children, young people and adults. Through a dedicated survey for our In Focus topic, ‘Transitions to Adulthood’, we heard first-hand from adopted young people and adults how lack of effective support both in childhood and during the transition to adulthood, and the impact of arbitrary, age-based cut off points for support services only made an already challenging time of life even more difficult to navigate.

This year, our In Focus topic will be about beginning and maintaining relationships with birth family members. What happens when an adopted child or young person expresses a wish to connect with a birth family member? Who supports young people and families through this journey? What long-term support is available for formally agreed direct contact arrangements? How frequently are arrangements for maintaining contact with birth family members reviewed? What support is available for adopted adults seeking more information about their birth family?

And of course, there will be all the usual opportunities for adoptive families to tell us about your experiences of approvals and matching, the early weeks and months as a family, education, adoption support, and navigating the teen years and beyond.

With the Care Review underway in England, Scotland’s commitment to Keeping the Promise now into the Plan 21-24 phase, new adoption legislation in Northern Ireland and the National Adoption Service’s commitment to improve adoption support in Wales, there has never been a better time to make your views known.

The surveys for adoptive parents and adopted adults are open now and remain open until the end of February 2022. You don’t need to be an Adoption UK member to contribute your views, so please join us in ensuring that the Adoption Barometer 2022 has the biggest possible impact. Please fill in the survey now.

Rebecca Brooks,
Adoption Barometer author