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    Looking to adopt? What are the Skills Needed?

    The adoption process differs around the world but no matter where you live, the importance of adopting a child remains the same.

    In 2013-14, the number of adoptions in the UK rose to over 5,000. This is a 63% increase in the last three years which means thousands more vulnerable children have now found their forever families.

    2014 UK Adoption Statistics
    • 68,840 children were in the care of local authorities, compared to 68,060 in 2013.
    • 55% of children were boys
    • 17% were aged between 1 and 4-years-old
    • 72% of children were placed within 12 months
    • 48% of children with a placement order were part of a sibling group
    Who can adopt?

    It goes without saying that to adopt a child and bring him or her into your family permanently takes an incredible amount of strength, love and determination.

    There are a number of skills which prospective parents require in order to ensure children are welcomed into stable, loving homes that will give them the support they need.

    Here is a summary of the fundamental traits one needs to adopt but please don’t be deterred if you don’t have all of these - there’s no such thing as the perfect adoptive family and there are no hard or fast rules!
    • Patience: It will take time for a child to settle into their forever home. It is a new and daunting experience but as their new adoptive parents, they will count on you to remain committed to them through all challenging times - whether good or bad.
    • Flexibility: In the UK, up to 39 weeks' statutory adoption pay is available to eligible employees. An employee who is entitled to adoption leave can take up to 26 weeks' ordinary adoption leave, followed by a further 26 weeks of additional adoption leave. One needs to be flexible in terms of work to have the necessary quality time to bond and form a strong relationship. 
    • Calming and understanding: A good listening ear is a must. People who are willing to learn and seek support but that are willing to give their new adoptive child the physical and emotional support they need.
    • Kindness: Being kind is fundamentally crucial. It’s important to be as approachable and honest as possible and provide reassurance as the child’s new forever family.
    • Recognition & awareness: It can be extremely helpful to allow your child to have a good understanding and awareness of their identity and background. Their past will always have an impact on their present and their future; however by recognising this and bearing it in mind, whilst being open and approachable can help both parents and children move forward.

    Do I need special skills for different types of adoption?

    As mentioned above, there are certain skills which services look for in candidates who want to adopt. There are however, certain types of cases and or times in a child’s life that are special and require slightly more consideration.
    • Babies: Adoptive parents need to have the same qualities as any other new parent. It is a lifelong commitment that will bring out many sleepless nights, feeds and nappy changes.
    • The bond between you and the baby can take a little time to develop, so be patient and reassured this is completely normal.
    • Teens: One of the most underlying issues with adopted children when reaching their teenage years is helping them to understand their identity. All teenagers struggle with the concept of “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose?” but this can be extremely hard to understand and answer as the questions adoptive teens face are more complex than their non-adopted peers.
    • Give your teenager the information they need, help them learn more and be there to support them through the process. 
    • Give them a voice in decisions, independence and most importantly, talk openly about issues. 
    • Children with disabilities: It’s crucial that a prospective parent who wants to adopt a child with learning or physical disabilities is fully aware and able to cater to their needs. 
    Alternative approaches to communication may be required and additional skills may be needed for intellectual, sensory or other impairments.

    You don’t necessarily have to have experience with disabled children as long as you can demonstrate interest, commitment and willingness to care whilst undertaking research to the issues that need to be considered.

    If you are thinking of adopting a child, really take the time to evaluate if you have the emotional, physical, mental and financial resources before deciding to adopt.

    This article was provided by Blackpool Council Adoption Services aid prospective parents throughout North West England with their adoption journey.
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