How did you become involved with adoption and Adoption UK?
I became involved in adoption through a multidisciplinary research group based at Cardiff University that was successfully funded to undertake the Wales Adoption Study. The Wales Adoption Study is a national research study that used a mixed-methods approach to examine the characteristics and experiences of a sample of children recently placed for adoption in Wales, to consider the early support needs of adoptive families into which these children were placed, and to better understand what helps such families flourish. The study is now in its fourth year. I became aware of and involved with Adoption UK because Ann Bell is a member of the advisory group for the study.
Any specific skills or areas of expertise relevant to the work of Adoption UK?
I am a developmental psychologist with core interests in family processes and the relationship with children’s well-being. I am interested in adoption research generally, with specific interests in the mental health and educational experience of children adopted from care. Our research group is currently examining the school performance and experiences of adopted children (led by Andrew Brown) as well as the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACE) and mental health of children post placement (led by Rebecca Anthony). Rebecca is also examining the role of parental expressed emotion about their children in relation to children’s psychological health. I am particularly interested in adoptive family relationship quality, including parent-child, couple and sibling relationships, and the implications of such relationship quality for children’s well-being.
How do you want to see Adoption UK develop over the next five years?
I would be keen to see Adoption UK champion the need to obtain reliable information about how children adopted from care fare in relation to their psychological well-being, health and education. The capacity to monitor trends or even the most basic outcome data is limited, with consequences for those advocating on behalf of children and families and for those who want to produce useful information relevant to the development of best practice.