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. 

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The first time I became aware of adoption, I was a student social worker in 1987, helping a birth mother write a letter and information for her child’s life story book. 

I thought about how huge these decisions to sever relationships were, how raw and frayed the left behind family could feel. 

Then as I became a social worker, I supported many children through the process of moving between families and away from harmful experiences. I felt the responsibility, uncertainty, and powerful emotions of these massive permanence decisions for adoptive families, foster carers, and social workers.

I developed into someone who could support children therapeutically and I thought about how fragile and unheard these children were.

My travels took me to Europe, Siberia and Central Asia working with projects that either returned children from large institutions to communities or watched them leave for international adoptive families. Again, the exploration of children journeying between families.

After watching from the side-lines for so long, I decided to return to the UK and find my child to love and nurture. So began my journey to being a mum.

I have learned that all this experience of the adultified adoption service, was little compared to what I could learn from looking at the world through my son’s eyes.

Adoption has been for us a tremendous journey of discovery, fearful encounters, sleepless nights, and sensory outpourings. We have joined together to manoeuvre our way through everything that services could challenge or support us with – sometimes choosing wisely, at other times not. I have learned how challenging and emotionally exhausting caring, advocating, changing the world around us can be. 

Now I have the most amazing Economic Social Research Council (ESRC) funded opportunity to research the everyday worlds of adopted children in the Tees Valley. 

Listening to these voices I again feel revitalised to keep fighting for a child-centred system that values each child’s reality, rather than privileging the adult tales of rescue or abandonment. We need to learn better ways of helping adopted children take a confident place in the world, no longer secret or concealed – rather rightfully cherished by their wider community and cared for by the people within it. 

Return to the 50 Faces page