by LAUREN CODLING
ASIAN families have been encouraged to consider adoption, as figures show children from ethnic minority backgrounds often wait the longest to be placed.
Data from the Department of Education shows that 240 children from BAME backgrounds waited more than 18 months to be adopted since entering care. Many of these children are under the age of five.
To mark National Adoption Week, additional figures published last Wednesday (14) showed there are currently around 2,400 children waiting for adoption. However, just over 1,800 approved adopters are ready to give them a home.
Addressing Eastern Eye readers, minister for children and families Vicky Ford urged potential adopters to “come forward”. “We have 2,400 children who need a home. It’s so sad that they can’t stay with birth families any more, which may be for many different reasons, but they need a loving family,” she said. “We need people from all ethnic backgrounds for children waiting for adoption.”
Ford stressed perceived barriers related to adoption were often myths. Many believe that single people cannot adopt, she said, or that they should be in full-time work.
“You can come forward if you already have children, or if you have none,” she explained. “You can be an adopter if you’re a single person, or if you’re married, or if you’re in a civil partnership. You don’t need to be employed; you just need to be financially secure. We want people from all walks of life.”
Commenting on the statistics about BAME children waiting to be adopted, education secretary Gavin Williamson said “we must end an obsession with finding the perfect ethnic match for children”.
In 2019, an Asian couple claimed they were “told not to bother applying” for adoption because of their ethnic heritage. Sandeep and Reena Mander said Adopt Berkshire discriminated against them by turning them away, because only white children were available for adoption. The pair was awarded nearly £120,000 in damages last December, after a judge ruled they were discriminated against by not being allowed to adopt a child.
Williamson stressed there were “no acceptable reasons” why adopters should be blocked from registering simply because there are no children of the same ethnic heritage waiting to be adopted.
Ford said some families may find trans-racial adoptions “challenging” – but she emphasised the “rewarding” outcomes. “In some families, what you find is they really celebrate and embrace different racial identities within their families,” she said. She added that trans-racial families have access to support from services such as the Adoption Support Fund, which was launched in 2015. The organisation is thought to help nearly 61,000 adoptive and special guardianship order families across the country with therapeutic support.
National Adoption Week will also see the launch of a network aiming to connect with mosques, churches and community groups to encourage more potential ethnic minority adopters to come forward. The campaign is due to start with pilot services in London and Birmingham.
“These children need these loving forever homes,” Ford said. “In National Adoption Week, please think about whether or not you may be the person who can provide that love to that child.”
The government confirmed last week that £6.5 million would be provided to local authorities and regional adoption agencies to help adoptive families facing greater stress during the Covid-19 pandemic