The National Children and Young People Service Stakeholder Group (Wales) gathered the views of regional adoption team practitioners and team managers from across the Wales to inform the development of the National Children and Young People Service Framework for adopted children and young people in Wales. A multitude of people attended and spoke but we wished to share with you what Charlotte shared.

The first event with the National Children and Young People Service Stakeholder Group was held on 16th January 2020, 11:00-16:30 at Adoption UK Cymru’s Cardiff office. This purpose of this event was to gathered the views of regional adoption team practitioners and team managers from across the Wales, alongside Adoption UK, who currently has their own CYPS, to ensure all of Wales is represented in the development of the National Children and Young People Service Framework for adopted children and young people in Wales.

There was also some input from guests of the ‘Celebrating Connected’, Adoption UK’s CYPS, event which occurred on the evening of that same date, 16th January 2020. The evening event saw a variety of people attending, including guest speakers: Julie Morgan AM, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services; Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales; and Jamie Baulch, Olympic silver medallist and double World champion.

The day was hosted by Francesca Morris, National Children and Young People Service Development Officer (Wales), and there were 17 participants representing, the National Adoption Service (NAS), Adoption UK (AUK); Western Bay Adoption Service (WB); Vale, Valleys and Cardiff Adoption Service (VVC); Mid and West Wales Adoption Service (MWW); South East Wales Adoption Service (SEWAS), as well as two young people. Apologies were received from St David’s Adoption Agency and North Wales Adoption Service.

In addition, there were guest speakers, Ruth Letten, Adoption UK’s Connected Manager; Martin, young person; and Charlotte, young person; who provided personal and professional insights to the current service. As well as Suzanne Griffiths the Director of National Adoption Service. These guest speakers remained for the day and also took part in all activities reported.

Although there will be more information about the Framework in the near future, these are the four key elements of the National Service:

  • Connected - Connected groups available across Wales;
  • Information and advice - About adoption available to young people through the same channels that they access other information.
  • Being heard and respected - Gathering the views and priorities of adopted children and young people and feed them into regional and national plans in a systematic and fully participative way. Including a young adopted adults ambassador scheme.
  • Awareness and upskilling - Awareness raising and upskilling mainstream youth/play services to ensure they understand and respond better to the needs of adopted children and young people.

We also wished to share with you what Charlotte shared about her journey. She has been engaged with adoption specific youth work for over 10 years, and now supports younger people who are adopted.

This is written by Charlotte:

“Some people might call me an adoptee, I call myself an adopted person, but day to day you can call me charlotte because that's my name and I prefer my labels on clothes not people. Firstly I want to thank you all for being here today & for giving me an opportunity to get my voice & the voices of many others who've been in foster care or adopted, heard.

There are so many positives associated with adoption however there are also some negatives experienced as well. Everyone is different & experiences & feels adoption differently.

Being adopted to me, means being given a second chance at life. I grew up with an incredible set of kind & supportive parents who gave me age appropriate information through out my life & so I'd always known I was adopted I just hadn't always fully grasped what it meant & the impact it would have on me and my life & it wasn't until I fully understood what being adopted meant, that I started to feel a sense of loss.

The way I would describe transitioning from knowing I was adopted to understanding I was adopted is experiencing the feelings of the grieving process, and I dealt with each feeling at a different age & time in my life.

Denial being the stage where I knew I was adopted but didn't fully understand what it meant. In my teens I experienced the anger, bargaining & depression & guilt stages of the process where I understood what adoption was but it led to the 'why, what, how' questions that made me feel angry thinking of the likely answers and not having a way to find out.

I would often fantasize about my biological parents & what it would be like to meet them & then when I really began to understand that my fantasies wouldn't be reality, that's when the depression and guilt hit because I didn't have a life story book, I felt a sense of loss because I was told different things by different people throughout my life that it didn't feel like my story, it felt like a bunch of people each contributing a piece to the puzzle that was my life. & I wanted to experience building that puzzle, so when I understood that the control wasn't necessarily mine, it hurt.

When I was first told about talk adoption I won't lie, it was daunting because I hadn't ever really talked to anyone else about my adoption and had always kept my experience on the down low so it felt like I ripping a plaster off a cut that hadn't quite healed yet, and showing the world.

I was 14 when I was luckily introduced to talk adoption & the wonderful Ruth Letten, who has unknowingly been my life coach throughout the process, she gave me a safe space to explore and process all my emotions and feelings in an authentic way, through art, communication, drama, & engaging with other adopted young people, while also encouraging and allowing me to be 100% unapologetically myself

I was both nervous and excited to see what talk adoption was all about and I didn't for a second anticipate just how impactful it would be for me and so many other young adopted people. Talk adoption has been one of the greatest things to have been created in the last decade because it's helped shape me as a person and has given me so great opportunities to get my voice & the voices of other adopted people heard. 

Without the continued encouragement & support from both my parents and Ruth, I wouldn't have been able to reach the final stage of the grieving process, acceptance & for that I'm forever thankful & in debt. Since reaching the stage of acceptance I have been able to change my mindset from 'why did this happen' to 'how can I help others through their struggles and that's why I've put more time into volunteering at the talk adoption groups rather than using the service, because I realised I no longer needed help but I still want to help others & hope others can benefit from my experience.”