We need to talk about adoption

21 November 2017

Topic: Adoption, Permanence, Voices of young people
Author: Fiona Aitken

A child and two adults holding hands, walking away from the camera

The theme of this year's Adoption Week Scotland is: We need to talk about adoption. The week aims to highlight the security that a loving family can offer some of the most vulnerable children who are waiting in the care system, while also acknowledging the needs that many children will live with for the whole of their lives.

We now know more about the reality of adoption today – more about the impact of trauma on children who have experienced difficult starts in life, more about the effect of alcohol, drugs and chaotic environments on the infant in utero, and more about the often lifelong need for support that adoptive families have. We also know more about the benefits that adoption can offer a child and family.

Adoption is complex. It's rarely straightforward, and has an enormous impact on everyone who is involved with it.  As part of adoption week, Adoption UK Scotland and the Adoption and Fostering Alliance (AFA) Scotland have compiled a booklet of stories from those involved with the adoption process – from birth parents, to foster carers and adoptive parents. The booklet also summarises what we know about adoption, from the people involved and research: that it remains one of the most positive destinations for children who can no longer live with their birth families.

Voice of the adopted young person

One voice that is commonly missed in the narrative around adoption is that of the adopted young person. In Scotland we are currently undergoing an Independent Care Review that is seeking input from those who have been in the care system and lived through it to have their say about how it can be improved. Those managing the review understand the need to have those from within the system involved to change the system. If we want to accurately evaluate and improve adoption, we need to be doing the same.

As part of the Adoption Task Force, facilitated by CELCIS, Adoption UK is collaborating with St. Andrew's Children's Society, Scottish Adoption and social work and third sector agencies to gather input from adopted young people across Scotland.

We would like to know two things – what does adoption mean to them, and how could their experiences have been improved?

This project is a chance for us to encourage adopted young people to share their story, as a part of helping us to improve experiences for other young people coming through the same system.

Young people's project

The first phase of the project is Share Your Story – and we wanted to capture the voice of the young people from the beginning. We sought the help of a group of adopted young people to help us create the beginnings of the project: a short film to share our details and encourage others to take part. 

Through a series of facilitated group meetings we worked together with a filmmaker to plan  the production of this 'advert'. We are grateful to them all the young people for taking part, and bringing their voices and imagination to the task. We are now asking local authorities, agencies and organisations working with adoptive families to help us to support young people to take part in the project. 

We would like them to submit their thoughts and stories in any way that they choose – through pictures, poetry, presentations or podcasts, we are keen to see, hear and experience it all. All submissions will help us with the final stage of our project – Hear Our Story, where we hope to raise awareness around the thoughts and experiences of adopted young people.

Adoption Week Scotland is the perfect opportunity to share our project video across Scotland – to engage more young people in the conversation about adoption, and remind us all why we are talking about it in the first place, and who it is for – the children and young people who can no longer live with their birth family, who are seeking a place of permanence within a loving family home - #ourchildren.

Adoption Week in Scotland runs between 20-25 November 2017.


The views expressed in this blog post are those of the author/s and may not represent the views or opinions of CELCIS or our funders.

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