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]

JulianJulian was adopted when he was seven, along with his younger brother, then aged three. Now 29, Julian has recently started a law degree at the University of Dundee.

Our adoptive parents were loving but were not adequately equipped with the tools and knowledge to successfully navigate the difficulties that adoption can bring. There still needs to be more support for adoptive families today.  

From the age of eleven I started to act ‘out of character’. I was bullied at school, including physical assaults. When I was 12 or 13 I was diagnosed with mild depression, but my GP was unwilling to prescribe antidepressants due to my age. There was a very narrow range of options available at that time, and it didn’t help that my medical records weren’t passed on after I was adopted. Because of that, a whole host of things were missed – it was like I didn’t have a life before adoption.

Neither I nor my adoptive family were offered any real mental health support after that. I did have some sessions with an NHS counsellor, but that didn’t get to the root of the problem and I feel the sessions were not focused on trauma. It was only when I was 27 that I was diagnosed with complex PTSD stemming from historical abuse.

I am currently going through the process of being diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder. Had this been picked up when I was in care it may not have impacted upon my life the way it did. I believe there is a real need for psychological assessment for all adopted children.  

I also believe there should be ring-fenced funding to ensure adopted people can access a lifetime of psychological support, and I’d like to see the creation of a national lead for adopted young people. There also needs to be a realisation that ‘positive destinations’ for adopted young people are not necessarily the same as they are for others. More nuanced language is needed within the education sector for those with different life experiences.

Adoption sees children leaving deprived, poverty-stricken families for affluent, middle-class parents. These children’s outcomes are improved but expectations need to be managed.

Children, like my brother and I, undergo a huge transition involving class structure, heritage and identity. I grew up on a council estate in Dundee for the first five years of my life before being expected to adapt into a middle-class family - a different game with new rules and expectations. It may be down to the fact I have Asperger’s Syndrome, but I went through the whole transition with no issue until I was able to process what I’d lost.  

There were always subtle tones that I was expected to be grateful. Society expects that once you have been adopted, you should be grateful for the new opportunities you have been given. This does not adequately recognise the profound sense of loss that adoption can have on both children and birth families.

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