TWELVE local children were put up for adoption in the Western Trust between April and September this year for a variety of reasons including parental neglect, actual or risk of abuse, or because parents with long term mental health issues were unable to care for their children.
Head of adoption in the Londonderry area, Pat Armstrong, says unfounded myths that still persist about adoption are depriving local children of a start in life with a loving family.
Contrary to popular belief you are not barred from adoption if you are over 40, smoke, are a single man or are obese. Equally, it is not true that you can only adopt a child that is of the same ethnicity and race as you.
Speaking during National Adoption Week Mr Armstrong, Head of Fostering and Adoption Services for the Western Trust said: “It has been highlighted through public surveys, carried out by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), that various ‘myths’ distort the facts about adoption criteria and processes.
“In reality these myths can deprive children of a new start in life with a loving family.”
Katherine McElroy, Adoption Social Work Manager, Western Trust said: “It is true applicants must be able to meet the needs of the children and it can be an intense process. However, the reward of improving a child’s life and developing a loving relationship is worth every effort made and step taken.”
She emphasised: “The Western Trust welcomes applicants from all social, economic, religious and cultural backgrounds. Applicants must be over 21, they can be married or a single.
“Most importantly they must be committed to providing a child with a secure, stable and loving family. Adoption is a service for children first and foremost and the Western Trust are committed to finding loving and secure families for life for children who are unable to remain with their own family.”
Kieran Downey, Director of Women and Children’s Services for the Western Trust said: “Most adopted children are ‘looked after’ by the Trust prior to adoption.
“Adopted children may have been in the care of the Trust for a range of different reasons: parental neglect, actual or risk of abuse, or because parents are experiencing long term mental health problems which impact on their ability to parent in a manner that meets their children’s needs.
“From April 2011 to September 2012, twelve children in Western Trust area had a care plan of adoption with an average age of two-and-half years old.
“For eleven of those twelve children, courts decided that adoption was their care plan; while one child was placed for adoption by consent. Some children will have experienced many moves and instability in their young lives.
“We need local adoptive families who can meet the needs of these children in our care and help them to feel secure, wanted and loved.”
A new Regional Adoption and Fostering website has just been launched, www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net to support anyone considering adoption or fostering.
Users can download information packs, read profiles of children waiting for a home and read how adoption has made a lasting difference to some young people.
If you would like to find out more about adoption, please contact the local Western Trust Adoption Team on: Limavady, Londonderry and Strabane area: Catherine McKevitt, Social Work Manager Adoption T: (028) 7131 4226; Omagh and Fermanagh area: Katherine McElroy Social Work Manager Adoption T: (028) 8283 5114.