Service Manager, Vicky Davidson Boyd, reflects on her work in adoption during National Adoption Week

Monday 18 October 2021

It’s National Adoption Week, and it’s making me think a lot about the amazing people who are involved in making safe, secure, and loving families for children who deserve to have the stability of a permanent family.

I’ve loved this years’ campaign, which is focusing much more on conversations about adoption, and hearing about the passion and reward of being involved in adopting a child- whether that’s the adoptive parents, their family, or one of our staff. I consider it a privilege to work in this area of social work, and am often just quite humbled by the energy, commitment, and dedication of so many adults who work so hard together to make this happen.

I always meet the adoptive parents going through their Preparation to Adopt course, and I’m encouraged about the openness to learn and change thinking about what adopted children need. We don’t often talk much publicly about birth parents in adoption, but in ATV we invite a birth Mum to talk to our adopters, to help them understand that the life of a birth parent deserves understanding and compassion. Holding respect for the birth parent, whatever that story is, will help adoptive parents to provide the nurture and support in later years when their child needs to try and understand their own identity and life story, and why they came to be adopted. So, every time I meet adoptive parents at this stage, I am reminded of their journey of learning and growth, and of the courage of our birth Mums to help educate and share the most painful part of their lives with adopters.

I’ve been talking a lot with adoptive parents recently about what motivated their decision to choose to adopt. I’ve been hearing about the decision to find out more about adopting siblings by one of our adoptive parents and getting more involved in that particular story has taught me a lot. One thing is that we need to have much more conversation and information about what adopting siblings means, and what may be the challenges, and the rewards. But most importantly, the benefits to children of growing up together with their blood relatives- their sibs!

Lets be clear- siblings can get on each other’s nerves, they can fight and be rivals, but as a life long companion, friend, and someone who shares your birth heritage, siblings walk the path of your life with you, if given the opportunity.
That’s why we offer support and must continue to champion adoption support, for all our adopted children, but for those families and children where sibs are adopted together.

And this leads me on to the social workers, and therapists who work with so much passion and commitment to support adopted children, and their families. I am just bowled over some days by the energy, care, and to be honest sometimes frustrations of the social workers who do so much to get the right family for children and the right support to the whole family. It matters so much to them. There is such pride and pleasure when adoptive parents are approved; such joy when a family wants to consider a particular child; and after a lot of conversation and reading, and usually a chemistry visit too, the prospective adopters say yes- this is right for me/us.

Social workers, therapists, managers, support workers, virtual school staff, foster carers, do their very best to support families, and children, so that the children get the best outcomes possible in their lives- stability, and the opportunity for a “normal life” where they can just get on with growing up, and feeling safe, and supported to be who they are.

And my final reflection is on the PhD researcher I have had the pleasure to work with over the last 2 years, who herself is an adoptive parent and is researching into the needs and life stories of adopted children. She has brought the focus onto the voice of adopted young people, and helped me to hear from, and learn much more about what is important as you grow up as an adopted young person, from the voices of teenagers. Meeting, and hearing directly from the young people has been a privilege, and a responsibility.

We need to listen, but then be prepared to act, to help improve awareness and support to change things for the better.

For all our people, adopters, children, social workers, and other people who work around adoption, I respect and thank you for what you share with me. This is what makes working in adoption a hugely rewarding job for me too.