THE British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is urging members of the African community to consider whether they could offer a loving and permanent home to a child from an African or dual heritage background..
Every year, there are thousands of children throughout the UK needing a permanent family, many are from an African background - this includes a large number of dual heritage children - there are currently 200 children of mixed ethnicity on the Adoption Register for England and Wales needing families. Throughout National Adoption Week, BAAF will be raising awareness of adoption and the need for more potential adopters from black communities to come forward.
The number of African children being adopted over the last ten years has remained static and as National Adoption Week reaches its tenth anniversary, BAAF hopes that, this year, even more people from African backgrounds will think about whether they can provide these children with a family forever.
Sonia Brown from the National Black Women's Networks says: There has been a determined effort over the years to raise awareness of the number of African children in the system who would benefit from the exceptional role models, long term positive mentoring and culture that black and dual heritage families could offer if they were to provide permanent homes in greater numbers.
Whilst it is important to ensure that policies are in place to protect the wellbeing of the child, it is a shame that misconceptions about the process, act as a major barrier to reducing the number of children successfully placed within black and dual heritage families. By providing supportive and stable homes, you will help African children grow into morally strong, positively grounded individuals who will move into adolescence and adulthood with increased self confidence and a strong sense of self worth.
It is time for the black community to overcome their misunderstandings about adoption and make a concerted effort to take responsibility for providing homes, where possible, to the most vulnerable in our community. As the African proverb goes "it takes a village to raise a child!" Let's play our part in reducing the number of African and mixed heritage children in care.
Shegun Olusanya, 45, and his wife Seyi Olusanya, 38, adopted Joshua, now four, two years ago say: 'We had been trying for a baby for a long time and had also tried a few cycles of IVF, but we were not lucky. So, we decided to adopt and approached the local authority.
A social worker came to the house and explained the process. After we decided to proceed with the adoption process, a social worker was appointed to take us through the approval process. She went through our whole life - for example my parents split up when I was 12 and she wanted to see how I'd been affected. At first you think, "Why are they asking about this?" But I know they needed to do it. Amazingly, Seyi fell pregnant but sadly lost the baby at five months. The social worker gave us six months space to grieve, then came and told us she had found Joshua. When she showed me a picture of Joshua, I thought, "Wow, OK!" When we first adopted him, Joshua was very quiet, but since his third birthday, he's been talking for England! I think he's catching up after all those quiet times. He's a gentle boy, though, and thinks through things carefully.
Joshua's birth mother is from Uganda. When he's older I will tell him about his birth parent and take him to Uganda as he needs to know his heritage (Seyi and I are from Nigeria). I have a photo of his birth mother and I tell him it's Mummy Margaret. We will give him the love he needs and love him as we would our birth son, but I am sure he will want to meet her when he grows up. I want him to feel he is blessed with two families, rather than feeling that part of his life is missing. I know Joshua will have a better life than if he'd returned to Uganda with his birth mother. And I want him to have the best there is - I've even put his name down for Eton!
He's really thriving already - the report from his nursery says he's integrated well and has made lots of friends, that he's growing more assertive and learns quickly. In fact, adopting Joshua has brought lots of joy all round."
David Holmes, Chief Executive of BAAF says "Adoption is one of the best ways we know of giving children who cannot return to their birth families a permanent and loving home. We know that children do best when brought up in a family that reflects their ethnic and cultural identity as closely as possible. But we do not have enough adopters coming forward from African, Caribbean and mixed heritage backgrounds, which means children from these backgrounds often wait in care too long for an adoptive family. We are urging people from these communities to consider whether they could offer a child a family forever."
He adds: "Could you be the parent that a child is waiting for? If you think the answer might be yes, please log on to the National Adoption Week website
to find out more - you could transform a child's life for the better, forever.