Adoption UK - 50th Anniversary

Adoption UK 50 Years logoAdoption UK is 50! 

50 is a big milestone, and an opportunity to pause, reflect and plan for the futureFor 50 years we have supported, advocated, championed and been there for adoptive families around the UK.

Today our cause is as clear and compelling as ever; to secure the right support at the right time for the children at the heart of every adoptive and kinship care family.  

For Adoption UK, this all began in 1971, when Elvis Presley and The Jackson 5 were in the charts, a gallon of petrol was 33p and two adopters starting running a voluntary organisation from their homes, for adopted children with special needsAdoption has changed a lot since then, and so have we. 

Contact us at [email protected]

GemmaGemma and her husband live in Scotland with their adopted daughter, Isabelle, who is six.

I wish I could say that the day Isabelle got her diagnosis, that was the end of our struggle. But the big difference is that now we have support, from people who understand, who have the right experience and skills.

When our daughter came to us at eight months she was described as a ‘perfect baby’, with no family history of alcohol, or drug abuse.  But at two and a half, the violence began. She started headbutting, kicking and biting. We were covered in bruises. Aged three, Isabelle became obsessed with sharp knives. She told me she wanted to ‘cut me open and see me bleed’. She went through strange phases like retching when she saw the colour red or blinking really quickly and couldn’t seem to stop.  She had so much more energy than other kids and she stopped sleeping for more than a few hours a night. 

I’ve got a background of working with children with learning disabilities so I knew that something wasn’t right. Some of our daughter’s behaviours looked like Autism, some like ADHD but they didn’t really fit neatly into any of those boxes. 

We took her to countless GPs, health visitors and social workers. Professionals and friends made lots of suggestions: it’s a phase she’ll grow out of; she’s just a strong-willed kid who needs really firm boundaries; maybe you should go on a parenting course…

Eventually I was put in contact with the FASD Hub who identified Isabelle’s behaviour as having all the hallmarks of FASD. This led to a specialist paediatrician diagnosing Isabelle with FASD, within 20 minutes. The relief was overwhelming. The diagnosis has been the key to us understanding Isabelle’s behaviour, how to parent our daughter and how to advocate for her. 

Isabelle has so many amazing qualities - she’s determined, clever, sociable, athletic and funny and we feel so proud and privileged to be her parents.  Now that we have the correct diagnosis we’re starting to help her understand how her brain works and support her to channel her determination in a positive way.  We take each day as it comes, but life is now much more enjoyable and we’re feeling positive about the future.

Gemma now works at the FASD Hub.

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