Who can adopt? Anyone aged between 25 and 50, any sexual orientation, any marital status, any ethnic and religious background. Find out more from Families for Children.

Adopting a sibling group is challenging, but rewarding. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)Adopting a sibling group is challenging, but rewarding. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)

Potential adopters "are gold dust" - Families for Children helps create loving adopted families

If you were a child in need of a loving home, how would it feel to know that someone who wants to adopt you was holding back, because they do not fit the image of a 'typical parent'? A caring and responsible adult, longing to welcome you into their home and look after you, but believing they will be turned away?

You would probably think: 'If only they had asked….'

In North Devon there are currently a large number of children waiting for adoption. But the Devon-based adoption charity, Families for Children, thinks the problem is not a shortage of people wanting to adopt. In fact, many potential adoptive parents are deterred by doubts: "Can you adopt a child if you are single, or divorced?" "What if I already have my own baby?" "Can I adopt if I'm gay?" "I don't own my own home, can I adopt?" "Will my ethnic or religious background rule me out?"

Walking together towards a happy future. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)Walking together towards a happy future. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)

Families for Children are specialists in their field, having found stable and loving homes for 750 children in the last 25 years in the South West. They have a wealth of expertise in finding people whose circumstances and life experiences will be right for a child currently in care. Social workers help with every step of the adoption process. Families for Children also provide support to these children and their families should they need it. This can be simple advice and guidance over the telephone or full therapeutic support packages tailored to the child's needs.

Potential adopters may worry that they do not fit a certain stereotype, but there is no such thing as a 'typical' child either. Families for Children say: "All the children we place are vulnerable, and many have complex extra needs, resulting from early childhood traumatic experiences, including abuse, neglect or lots of changes and moves in their lives. We place children of all ages, sibling groups, children with disabilities, and children from a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities."

One gay couple approached Families for Children because they both came from large families and wanted to adopt a group of siblings. Their social workers made sure they fully understood what they would be taking on, and introduced them to other families who had adopted and could talk about the challenges.

"Although the process was hard, it was also incredibly informative and useful. It allowed us to be open and honest with each other… we had the opportunity to ask as many questions as we wanted and to challenge ourselves, and our thinking about adopted children, and what our lives could be."

Adopting a sibling group is challenging, but rewarding. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)Adopting a sibling group is challenging, but rewarding. Picture: Stock image (Shutterstock)

They and their adoptive children now have "a pretty normal family life, noisy and fun, always changing and always rewarding".

Lilly was worried that, as a single full-time worker, she might be rejected as an adoptive parent. But after seeing a photo of Kirsten, an 18-month-old girl in care, she said, "I knew immediately that I had found my daughter."

A friend of Lilly's had recommended Families for Children to her, and their social workers guided her through the assessment. Lilly said, "It was a rigorous process, but they had to be sure I was the right parent for Kirsten."

Although it was possible that Kirsten could have already found a new home during this time, it turned out that she was being fostered. Lilly "felt she had won the Lottery" when she heard that the child was still available. She brought Kirsten home in 2011 and said "we have had the most amazing time since."

Rosina has adopted twice through Families for Children. The first time was with her husband, after they had tried IVF, but sadly been unable to conceive.

"We had to tell them about our childhoods, our family backgrounds, our siblings and our significant relationships. Although some of it felt invasive and intrusive, we did feel we were in a safe pair of hands."

They gave a home to three-year-old Shah and, after she had split from her husband, Rosina adopted a second child, four-year-old Tiannah.

"This time I was a divorced single parent adopter, but this didn't seem to make any difference," she said. Rosina, Shah and Tiannah are now living happily as a family.

"My advice to potential adopters would be that you are gold dust," she said. "Let the social workers guide you throughout the process, be prepared and make sure that you have a supportive network. No one has had a perfect life. The hurdles you have been through in life and how you have survived them will help you deal with the additional needs that adopted children sometimes bring with them."

https://familiesforchildren.org.uk/

North Devon office 01271 612 004