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Adoption: Calls for families to adopt amid rate decline

By Emma Glasbey

BBC News

Joanne and Dominic, from South Yorkshire, urged others to consider adoption

More people have been asked to consider adopting children with additional needs amid a decline in adoption rates.

Government figures show 2,960 children were adopted in England in 2022-23 - a fall of 2% on the previous year.

The Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies (CVAA) said children with disabilities or behaviour issues waited 11 months longer than others on average for an adoptive family.

The CVAA said the extra wait could be "really damaging" for children.

"Self-esteem and self-worth is certainly one consideration," chief executive Satwinder Sandhu said.

"It can mean they can't focus on childhood, on education, on thriving because all of their anxiety and emotions are being consumed by this unknown."

Joanne and Dominic adopted their eight-year-old daughter, who is deaf and wears hearing aids, in 2020 when she was aged five.

"She's a complete bundle of energy, really creative and with a great sense of humour - it's like she's always been here," Joanne said.

The couple from South Yorkshire said they quickly overcame any initial apprehensions.

Joanne said: "I thought, well I don't know sign language, I don't know anybody in the deaf community, I don't know much about hearing loss at all but I can learn.

"Some people say she's so lucky to have had us but we are the lucky ones."

Joanne and Dominic adopted their daughter in 2020

Dominic said he hoped other families would be able to overcome any reservations they had.

"There are so many kids out there needing homes," he said.

"It feels criminal to not at least contemplate doing it and to look into it as an option if you feel it's right for you."

The number of children being adopted across England has been steadily declining since a peak in 2015, despite an increase in children entering the care system.

The CVAA, which provides support and guidance to people interested in adoption, said adoption statistics have been affected by the increased use of kinship care placements.

Improvements in fertility treatments and the impact of the cost of living crisis had also impacted rates, it said.

As of 31 December 2023, 2410 children in England were ready for adoption but a family hadn't yet been found, according to the Coram charity.

This was an increase of 14% from the year before, data showed.

"For children who are vulnerable and need adoption, it can mean this is a life-changing moment that gives them access to a whole host of opportunities to thrive that they may not have had otherwise," Mr Sandhu said.

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