Norfolk County Hall – photo © The Eye Snapper

Could you give a home to some of the county’s most vulnerable children?  As National Adoption Week (#SupportAdoption) gets underway from 16 October, Norfolk County Council is appealing to anybody who can offer a permanent, stable and loving home to come forward.

Councillor Penny Carpenter, Chairman of the Children’s Services Committee said: “We know there are lots of people out there with the time and commitment to make a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable children.  It can be so rewarding to know that your patience, love and care can give a child a better start in life.

“We currently have 27 children in Norfolk waiting to be adopted and we’re particularly keen to find loving homes for children with additional needs and brothers and sisters who need to stay together.  Without people willing to adopt, some of these children could be in care for the rest of their childhoods.

“If you have been considering adoption but haven’t yet taken the first step, please do get in touch. We welcome people from all backgrounds and occupations.  And don’t let age be a barrier – we’ve placed children with adopters in their fifties and sixties.  However, we have to be sure people are likely to remain fit enough to care for the child until it has grown up.  Our adoption team is here to offer help and support throughout the adoption process and beyond.”

The council is holding two drop in information events this autumn.  This is an ideal opportunity to chat to specialist staff who can answer questions about all aspects of adoption and the adoption process.

Tuesday 31 October, 11am to 7pm, Dereham Library
Thursday 2 November, 11am to 7pm, The Forum Norwich

Anyone interested in finding out more about adopting in Norfolk should visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/adoption or call 01603 638343 or email adoption@norfolk.gov.uk

Case study
Sara and Jayne always knew they wanted to adopt.  “As a same sex couple we considered IVF but were aware that lots of children already out there need a loving home, so we decided adoption would be the best option for us.”

The couple were told about the council’s foster to adopt scheme at an information evening for prospective adopters.  “We thought this might work for us and broaden our chances to adopt, so we found out more from our social worker.  She put us in touch with other foster to adopt carers who told us about their experiences.  We thought long and hard about the risks and how we would cope if the child we were caring for went back to its birth parents or family.”

Sara and Jayne’s social worker felt that they were resilient enough to face the challenges ahead and to support each other through the process.  They also have a network of supportive family and friends nearby.  The couple decided to go ahead and were eventually approved as foster carers for baby Chloe with the hope of adopting her.

“It has been a bit of an emotional roller coaster and the uncertainty and waiting has been hard to cope with at times.  But the whole experience has made us stronger.  When we heard we might be able to adopt Chloe, we tried not to get too carried away as nothing was guaranteed.  We managed to stay grounded and reminded ourselves that if things didn’t go to plan, we had done our best by Chloe and given her a good start in life.”

Starting out as foster carers, the couple had weekly contact with Chloe’s birth mother.  “We were fortunate to be able to build a mutually respectful relationship with Chloe’s birth mum and this helped us all to cope with the situation.  We found out little things about her – like her favourite colour and music – which we can share with Chloe when she’s older and starts to ask questions.”

“Foster to adopt has its risks and the process can be hard going.  But it’s been an amazing journey and has completely changed our lives.  We would both love to do it again when Chloe is a bit older.”

Sara and Jayne’s names have been changed to protect confidentiality.

Foster to adopt involves placing young babies with potential adopters who are also approved as temporary foster carers while decisions are made about the child’s future within the court process.  This provides early stability when the chances of returning to the birth family is poor and assessments adoption is the most realistic long term option.  The child benefits from stability and continuity of care from the earliest possible stage in their lives with few major changes to cope with.