A Chester-based children’s charity and adoption agency is marking its 70th anniversary with a recruitment drive.
In the last six months staff at Adoption Matters have seen a big surge in the number of children being referred to them for adoption.
Yet at the same time the number of families on their books is falling away.
Matching up prospective adoptive parents to children can be a taxing and delicate process, but the long-running agency’s social workers have years of experience of finding loving homes.
Founded in 1955 as the Chester Diocesan Adoption Service, it has placed more than 4,000 children and its chief executive Norman Goodwin says the demand for good adoptive homes has never been greater.
“There is a lot more that needs to be done to try and recruit the types of parents we need for the types of children on our books,” he said.
“For a little while there were fewer children coming through, but that has changed quite radically during the last six months.
“There are lots more children who are coming in, although there are fewer families coming forward to offer them a home.”
Adopting children is not a decision to be taken lightly, but Adoption Matters works on the premise that there are many people who have considered providing a loving home but need the help and encouragement to follow their instincts and make what is a major life decision.
“It’s all sorts of children and all sorts of families. We’re looking for those types of people who may think ‘I can’t fulfil this or I can’t fulfil that’, but they may be able to if they have the interest,” added Norman.
“There will be some people who have had experience of bringing up their own children. But if they haven’t had children of their own we can provide good preparation and the therapeutic input to help them understand the needs of children.
“We’re not looking for special people, it is very much everyday people who can bring a range of skills.
“Maybe they have to be a little bit resilient and have a good sense of humour, but it is all about what they can offer the children to help them develop.”
While the process can appear daunting, the agency chief says plenty of help is at hand at its established centre for adoption support at Liverpool Road in Chester.
The process should take around six months, including the necessary background checks, and there is no bar to those families who rent, or those with a disability or on the grounds of sexuality.
The key criteria for Adoption Matters is finding those families who can offer a loving, stable and caring home and they must also be able to provide a child with their own bedroom.
“With certain types of children there are legal routes that have to be followed.
“And we are trying to find families for children who have waited the longest.
“They can be children who are part of a small group who want to be placed together and maybe the only reason they can’t be is because of specific needs such as medical or psychological needs,” outlined Norman.
“There are parents that are needed for children who are more damaged and we are interested in finding parents who can take very young children, often babies.
“There is no clear profile, but we need people prepared to come and take the risks and the benefits.”
“There is a process where we work with people to see if they have what it takes to do the job. Some of them will fall out during that process.”
Last year Adoption Matters placed 76 children with families, many of them in the Chester area. They are looking for at least 100 families to come forward every year.
Parents like Sarah Savage, from Wilmslow, who had given up hope of having a family after failed IVF treatment, but the support she received from Adoption Matters in taking on two little sisters ended up changing her and her husband’s lives.
She recalled: “I will never forget the day we went to the foster carers’ house to meet the girls, a little face of an inquisitive two-and-a-half year old and a just-walking 18-month old waddling up the drive to meet us, then taking my hand to walk back into the house, it was love at first sight.
“Over the following days, weeks and months we all learnt to adapt to each other with lots of nurturing and hugs.
“Our worker from Adoption Matters was always on hand to help with the worries or concerns and a frequent visitor supporting us all the way.”
Graham Jump, from Hartford, near Northwich, adopted a five-year-old boy with his wife, Kirsty, through Adoption Matters in 2012.
“After many years of soul searching and lots of paperwork we finally got the go-ahead to adopt when we welcomed our five-year-old little boy into the family.
“We cannot begin to tell you the joy he has brought into our lives and to those close to us,” he said.
Adoption Matters is commemorating its anniversary by recalling its past and celebrating its achievements via Twitter using the hashtag #adoptionmatters70
A section has also been created on its website dedicated to its history at www.adoptionmatters.org/our-history/
l Could you open your home and heart to one of the 2,050 children waiting for a family? If you are interested contact Adoption Matters on 0300 123 1066 or email firstname.lastname@example.org