The Adoption Barometer is published on 22nd June.

As both an adopted person and adoption Social Worker, it was a great honour to be asked to write the Foreword for this year's Adoption Barometer. As a person adopted in the 1960s, I represent a group of people who continue to experience the lifelong impact of adoption, sadly without access to the support we need at times, unless we can afford it.

Our perspectives, alongside those of care experienced adopted and fostered young people (and of course adoptive parents and birth family members) are in my view the most valuable resource for the development of a more positive future for children who cannot live within their birth families.  I take every opportunity to participate in research and therefore I was delighted that adopted peoples’ experience has been included within the Adoption Barometer for the last couple of years. I made sure I completed the survey as soon as it came out! 

Professionally, I recommend the Barometer to adoptive parents I work with to give them an insight into adoption; the challenges but also the joys. Last year’s Barometer referred to 80% of families being optimistic about their family’s future and 75% of families feeling that they would recommend adoption to others.

The focus of the Barometer this year has been on direct contact, a subject close to my heart. When I found out the details of my birth family in my twenties I was blown away by the fact that I had full siblings. As a child who had grown up on my own in an adoptive family, this was a dream come true. Now thirty years on, with contact ebbing and flowing over the years, I have a valued and close relationship with one sister but sadly I am now estranged from two of my other siblings who could not understand my need for family belonging. I find myself questioning if we would have had a stronger connection and a greater understanding of each other’s perspectives had we met as children.  

I applaud the organisations who are bringing siblings together to have fun and create memories. I am pleased that sibling contact is gaining traction, with the Scottish government making it law that siblings should be assisted to stay in touch and be supported to nurture their relationships. Hopefully, the rest of the UK will follow suit.  I am also looking forward to the expansion of digital contact options which will enable more dynamic and modern communication between children, their birth parents and other birth family members. 

I am glad that reference to the importance of direct contact has been included within the newly published Independent Review of Children's Care Services, though I am sad there was not more focus on adoption. Last year’s Barometer highlighted that seventy-one percent of adoptive parents feel that they face a continual struggle to get the help and support they need. The fact that this figure has remained unchanged across the three years of The Adoption Barometer, demonstrates that there continues to be an urgent need for accessible, streamlined and fast access to support where needed.

Some form of contact is inevitable for most adopted people. Hopefully, there is now enough momentum amongst governments and the adoption sector to make contact a positive part of our lives, not something that can so easily derail us.

by Heather Liveston