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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HughI was privileged to lead Adoption UK as its Chief Executive for five years from 2012 to 2017. This was my last professional role in a career than spanned five decades in children’s social care and it was definitely the most fulfilling role I held in all that time.

I was fortunate to be leading Adoption UK during a time of considerable political interest in adoption as the Coalition Government and then successive Conservative Governments invested heavily in reforming the adoption system. Through the knowledge and expertise of the team and our wonderful membership, we were able to play a significant role in shaping Government policy proposals and achieve what I believe were significant changes to adoption support.

Most importantly I think we managed to secure a paradigm shift in how adoption support is viewed. I spoke to and met too many adoptive parents early on who felt blamed for their children’s behaviour and the challenges they were facing on a daily basis. I saw this change to a political and public understanding that post placement support is an essential and universal element of modern-day adoption.

We were co-creators of the Adoption Support Fund. I spent many hours at the DfE working on the detail and I chaired the Government’s Expert Advisory Group that oversaw the fund’s development and implementation. It may not be perfect but it has become an enduring central government recognition and commitment to supporting adoption and special guardianship arrangements.

There are still many challenges; the needs of children adopted from care will continue to require parents with resilience, skills and knowledge and Adoption UK has always found great ways of supporting this. Public services however are under tremendous budgetary pressures and the level of need continues to outstrip many essential services for children. This will not change in a hurry, but the good news is that Adoption UK continues to evolve and continues to provide essential services and a powerful voice for all adoptive families.

None of what we achieved in the five years that I led the charity, or what had been achieved during the tenure of my predecessors, could have happened without the fantastic support and involvement of countless adoptive families who shared their stories and experiences with us. I was truly humbled to play a small part in supporting the wonderful community of adopters in the UK.

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