Enquiries in Wales rise by a third during lockdown as the National Adoption Service adapts to the challenges of the pandemic
By Corienne Strange, Policy and Practice Officer at the National Adoption Service
Well what can I say, what an unforgettable past three months it’s been!
Back in March, I admit to feeling a growing sense of anxiety about the extent to which coronavirus was going to jeopardise the way that we could operate and continue to provide adoption services for families across Wales. Was it possible to carry out certain elements of the approval process without face to face contact? How could we ensure that adopters were provided with the support they needed?
Naturally, this sense of unease extended to concerns about the levels of new enquiries we would receive during this time. After all, we understood that people’s livelihoods were at stake and those who were considering starting a family may have been forced to put this dream on hold. With that in mind, we were both surprised and delighted with what happened next….
According to our latest performance report, there was in fact a 36% increase in adoption enquiries during April – June 2020 in comparison to the same period last year. We’ve not only received more interest in adoption, but there has also been a significant increase in adopter assessments started during lockdown too. For all of its challenges, one of the benefits of the past few months may be that people have had more time at home to think about what they want to do. With more time to reflect on what they really want from life, it seems that even more people in Wales have been inspired to get in touch with us to begin their adoption journey – which is amazing.
Despite the challenges presented by the pandemic and restrictions on face to face contact and travel, we are incredibly proud of how the National Adoption Service has adapted. Before lockdown, we had limited experience of virtual communication with service users. Traditionally a lot of the work we do is carried out face to face because building relationships is a key aspect of the process. So, like many others around the world, we found this initial working adjustment a tricky one. Thankfully however, these latest enquiry figures have shown that the hard work of the staff in the regions and Voluntary Adoption Agencies in offering services remotely through email, telephone calls and video conferencing has meant that we have been able to support even more people as they begin, and continue, their adoption journeys.
One of our biggest priorities was to make sure that those going through the adoption process were still able to access all of the key stages of the process – from Information Events, to preparation training, ‘visits’ from social workers through to adoption panels. By moving the majority of these activities online, it has meant that we were able to continue our work to find families for children with an adoption plan.
Whilst we still haven’t beaten COVID, we’re proud to be in a position where we’re now confident that our services have successfully evolved to be able to meet all of the requirements for adopters at the start of the process. We hope that going forward many activities will continue to utilise both the new and more traditional ways of doing things; ensuring that we listen to what families tell us works well for them too.
With that in mind, we’ve re-launched our Become the Parent campaign to encourage more adopters in Wales to come forward. It doesn’t matter how old you are, your sexual orientation, whether you own your own home or if you’re single, almost anyone is able to adopt.
We understand that this is a big decision and we’re happy to go at whatever pace suits you. As a first step, here is some information about how to contact your local adoption agency: https://www.adoptcymru.com/contact