OBJECTIVES· To create awareness about Adoption and Fostering
· To know the differences between Fostering & Adoption.
· To highlight the benefits of Adoption & Fostering.
· To promote adoption within the Afro-Caribbean Community.
· To provide guidance and support for Prospective and/or Adoptive Parents.
· To promote multi-cultural adoption.
· To change mindset that you have to be married to be an Adoptive or Foster Parent.
· To break the myth that you can only adopt/foster a child if you are childless.
OUTCOMES· Be more informed about various options in Adoption.
· To realise mutual benefits that could be derived by the adopted child and adoptive parent.
· To realise the need for and how to access relevant and appropriate level of support.
· Realise that inability to conceive does not prevent you from giving unconditional love to
another person’s child.
TARGET AUDIENCE· Both male and female, irrespective of marital status and ethnic background.
· Age Group – 18 years and above
· All Nationalities
FACTS ABOUT ADOPTION & FOSTERING IN THE UK
Adoption - is a way of providing a new family for children who cannot be brought up by their own parents.
l It is a legal procedure in which all the parental responsibility is transferred to the Adoptive Parents or Adopters.
l Once an adoption order has been granted, it cannot be reversed except in extremely rare circumstances (which to date has never been done in the United Kingdom).
l An Adopted Child loses all the legal ties with their first mother and father (the ‘birth parents’) and becomes a full member of the new family, usually taking the family’s name.
l Adoption is permanent and a new birth certificate for the child is issued from the Adopted Children Register.
Fostering – usually a temporary arrangement. This long term or ‘permanent’ fostering cannot provide the same legal security as adoption for either the child or the foster family.
l Foster Carers share the responsibility for the child with a local authority and/or the child’s birth parents.
Who can Adopt or Foster?
There are no set rules regarding skills and qualities required to adopt or foster a child or group of siblings, provided you:
l are willing to learn and seek support
l have space in your home
l can value the child’s past experiences
l like children and are able to communicate and try to understand them
l patient, sensitive, flexible, adaptable, emotionally resilient, have lots of energy and a sense of humour, can remain committed t the child through varying challenging times
l ideally have some experiences of caring for children
v Support and training are provided throughout the assessment process to prepare for the life-changing experience.
Once adopted, the religion of the child would no longer be paramount according to the Open Neon Sign. Provided the Adoptive Parents meet all the needs of a family, the child would have to imbibe the same religion as his or her adoptive parents. However, if the adoptive parents are flexible, the child could practice any religion.
Summary of DiscussionsThe event took place on Friday 5 July 2012 at the Westminster City Hall in Victoria, London. In attendance was a representative of the British Association of Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) - a Consultant on Private Fostering & Black Minority Ethnic Issues.
Guests also included four African Adoptive Parents who shared their personal and emotional stories.In the first segment of the programme, in order to assess level of understanding of the attendees, there was a brain-storming session on the differences between Adoption and Fostering.
REAL LIFE STORIES OF FOUR ADOPTIVE AFRICAN PARENTS
Four families shared their emotional stories in pursuit of having children they can love.
Case Study 1
A Nigerian Woman in her late 40s based in the United Kingdom and married for 22 years with no children. After a lot of soul-searching, she decided to opt for adoption. During her very trying period, was advised by an Uncle to have children outside the marriage. She said she refused as she felt it was the greatest betrayal. With her Mother’s support, she adopted an abandoned girl of one day old from the Western part of Nigeria. The inter-country adoption process which entailed a rigorous assessment of the couple, took 9 months. This involved the couple travelling to Nigeria to meet officials of the Adoption Centre. The Woman said having a child she could call her own was worth all the pain she had endured and would have opted for adoption much earlier, if she had known about the different options. However, she said she believed that the time was right to make such life-changing decision. Their daughter is now 3 years old.
Case Study 2
A Nigerian Man in his early 50s based in the United Kingdom was married for over 15 years with no children. His wife had a medical problem and had suffered two miscarriages. However, despite numerous suggestions from family and friends to have children with another woman outside wedlock, he refused and remained faithful to his wife. He said he considered surrogacy but his wife refused. He said he was encouraged by his brother-in-law whose first child was adopted before he and his wife conceived naturally. The Nigerian man and his wife later adopted a two year old Ugandan boy whose mother could no longer take care of him in the United Kingdom. Four years later, the couple conceived naturally and had their first child, followed by another the following year. The adopted boy is now 8 years old and very much loved by the couple as their two other natural children. The couple remains in contact with the natural mother of their adopted son, through the ‘Letter Box Contact’ – a process which involves writing letters and sending photographs of the child to his mother. The man is a role model for the Afro-Caribbean Community, a member of the Croydon Adoption Panel and he campaigns for the Adoption of abandoned children in the United Kingdom – whom he calls the “Voiceless Children”. He has been on several Talk Shows and Seminars both in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. He was recently invited to Number 10 Downing Street (the official residence of the British Prime Minister) for a meeting on Adoption.
Case Study 3
A Ghanaian Woman in her early 50s based in the United Kingdom, married for 24 years. She had conceived seven times through IVF (In Vitro Fertilisation) but on each occasion, had still births. The marriage broke up due to her ‘obsession to have children’ of her own. She remarried but still had no children and decided to adopt a child from Ghana through a friend who had an NGO (non-governmental organisation) for abandoned children. She was introduced to an abandoned girl aged 3 months old. The woman had to undergo laborious assessment which lasted 7 months. As the child was abandoned, she also had to endure intensive medical examination to rule out any genetic disorder. The child was eventually adopted at 2 years old. The woman said after her adoption, her brother was also encouraged to adopt children. The adopted child is now 8 years old and waiting to join her adopted mother in the United Kingdom. In the interim, the Ghanaian travels regularly to see her daughter.
Case Study 4
A Nigerian Man in his early 50s who discovered at the age of 16 that the woman whom he thought was his natural sister (aged 26 at the time) was actually adopted. The astonishing discovery was when the sister was getting married and his parents declared that since her father was still alive, he would have to be notified of the impending marriage (of his daughter). The Nigerian man said it was then revealed that his sister’s mother, a relation of the family, died shortly after giving birth to her and that as his parents were newly wed, they decided accept her as their own child. His parents later went on to have several natural children together. The adopted sister who is now in her 60s also has natural children of her own.
The mindsets of Africans would need to change, especially since it has always been the general belief that in the case of infertility, the woman is the one with the problem. Recent surveys have indicated that a large percentage of men also have problems conceiving due to either low sperm count or other medical problem, which at times, go undetected (due to denials from men that they might have problems).
African men would, in pursuit of having children, continue to marry different women so as to prove their masculinity as some erroneously perceive women as ‘failures’ if they could not conceive. The irony is that both parties might not have any medical problem, yet unable to conceive which could just simply mean that they are medically incompatible. Therefore, it is imperative that couples or prospective parents understand the reason why they are opting for either adoption or fostering and are prepared to give unconditional love to the adopted or fostered child.
There is an urgent need for people, particularly the Afro-Caribbean and Asian Communities to consider adoption or fostering. There are so many children waiting on the Adoption Register who desperately need to be in a loving family environment.
The disadvantaged groups are Black boys who wait the longest on the Adoption Register. Unfortunately, as the children become older, it becomes more difficult to place them with adoptive families.