Northamptonshire County Council renews calls for adopters to take on vulnerable children
An urgent appeal to find families for vulnerable children in Northamptonshire has been made by the county council.
The drive comes as the council struggles to find homes for the county's older children, and has joined a partnership of ten other local authorities and voluntary organisations to meet the need.
And one couple who have taken the plunge and adopted a child want others to know how it can change their lives.
Richard, 43, and Rachael, 44, from Northampton, accepted a vulnerable seven-year-old boy named James into their home and say their lives have been "enriched" ever since.
"It's the most incredibly rewarding thing," said Rachael. "It turns your life upside-down, and you can see the progress they make as they spend time with you."
James, whose true name can't be revealed to protect his identity, came from a difficult home and has started a new life with Richard and Rachael, who found they couldn't have children of their own.
"After some reflection we chose to go down the adoption route," said Rachael. "We spent months searching with the adoption team as we couldn't find a perfect match. Then we went to a 'hard-to-place' evening for vulnerable and older children. We saw his details and after expressing an interest we were matched with him.
"In the week before we met him, we put together a book about our family and our home so he could get to know us better.
"We only met him a week before he moved in, and we spent as much time as we could with him. We took him out to lunch and played with him.
"It can be a challenge but it's very rewarding. Strangely, it's when you're a few weeks in and they have their first tantrums that you know you're getting on well, because they start to assert themselves and show more of their personality.
"He's been living with us for eight months now. There are some hurdles and milestones, like going on holiday together, and especially Christmas, as they don't know what to expect. But we've had a lovely time together."
Northamptonshire County Council are especially in need of adoptive families for older children.
Rachael said: "One of the advantages of adopting an older child is they can talk to you about what they're going through. Getting adopted and being displaced from your first home can still be a difficult time for any child, but younger children can have a hard time expressing that. If they can talk to you then it can make the process that much easier."
"Of course, we weren't alone throughout any of this. The support we got from the county council's adoption team was superb, and we learned so much during the training. I'd definitely recommend it for anyone thinking about it."
The council new partnership is formed of ten local authority and voluntary adoption agencies across the East of England, covering Cambridgeshire, Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Norfolk and Northamptonshire.
The initiative supports the Government’s drive to speed up the time it takes to find adopters for children waiting for a family. In the future, approved adoptive parents will be able to find out more quickly about children who are waiting for a family across the whole region rather than just in their local area.
Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for corporate parenting Councillor Suresh Patel, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for prospective adopters to find out more about the children across the region who are in need of a stable, loving home.
“By working in collaboration with our new regional partners, we can also increase the potential pool of adopters for the hundreds of children in need of a new home, while enabling partners to develop wider support services and share skills and resources.”
The group is hosting an information event on 4 February 2017 for anyone who is interested in adoption or wants to find out more. It is taking place at the offices of Coram Cambridgeshire Adoption, one of the agencies involved in the partnership. Please contact [email protected] for more details.