Disabled children are less likely to be adopted, let's change that! — Scope | Disability forum
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Disabled children are less likely to be adopted, let's change that!

Cher_Inactive Posts: 4,402 Scope online community team
Last week (12th -18th October 2020) was National Adoption Week. This year's aim was to encourage more people to consider adoption in the UK.  This is due to a drop in children being adopted:
“In the UK, there are almost 3,000 children that are in need of an adoptive family and the number of adoptions in England has fallen by a third in four years.”

This year’s campaign hoped to increase interest in adoption and stop the spread of myths that might stop people from applying in the first place.  

Who can adopt?

To adopt you need to meet a certain criteria, but this is more relaxed and open than you might expect.

First4adoption says you can apply to become an adoptive parent if:

  • You’re single, married or in a long term ‘live in’ relationship
  • You own your own home or rent, if you are employed or on benefits
  • You and your partner are 21 years of age or over

You can adopt regardless of:

  • Other children
  • Impairment and health conditions
  • Ethnicity, gender identity, sexuality or faith

These criteria are important to know because people sometimes think those who are LGBTQI can’t adopt. This is an outdated assumption based on discrimination.

Can I adopt a disabled child?

Yes, 40% of children on the waiting list to be adopted are disabled.  

The Guardian suggests that there’s a high number of disabled children due to people lacking the confidence to care for additional needs and a preference for adopting non-disabled babies and toddlers. 

This calls for a change in focus to the positive aspects of raising disabled children and the qualities, personalities and unique traits they each have as individuals. 

Interview with Garry Ratcliffe

To learn more about adoption we spoke to Garry Ratcliffe. He’s a dad of 4 and co-founder of the disability charity Curly’s Legacy.

Garry and his 4 children and husband grouped together smiling in front of the sea

Can you tell us a little about your family?

We are two dads with four children, all of whom we adopted and three have special educational needs or disabilities. Haydn (17), Bella (13), Curtis (Curly) (9) and Phoebe (8) make up our family. We describe ourselves as fun loving, strong and loving life!

Did you have any initial fears or worries about adopting disabled children?

Our fears and worries weren't about adopting DISABLED children - they were fears or worries about adopting children, full stop! Such a responsibility! What if we couldn't be good dads??? I guess the disability bit was a secondary consideration - did we have the capacity to do the best for the children? Yes, we did. Could we be strong advocates? Yes, we could? Did we need to learn more about their disabilities - Absolutely yes, we did! Was it difficult? Yes. Was it too difficult? NO! Children are children. Challenges with children who have experienced trauma are tough enough... Disabilities added on is tougher - and it's not for everyone, but for us, we saw an additional vulnerability for our children that meant we really, really wanted our adoptions to work - for us and them!

What has adopting children brought to your lives?

We have been able to visit Disneyland withe the kids - a great excuse to be children ourselves again! Unconditional love. Complete exhaustion. Never ending laughter. Occasional (or more than occasional) tears and worry. A completely different perspective to life and love. We’d never, ever wish to go back!

What made you start your own charity ‘Curly’s Legacy’ and what does it offer disabled families?

We started our own charity as a result of our family being chosen to be part of the BBC’s DIY SOS. Our whole community came together to support us, and we wanted to give something back. Curly’s Caravan offers free memory making holidays for children in care, adopted children, disabled children and those children with life-limiting conditions. Curly’s Farm offers EVERYONE - children and adults, the opportunity to be supported to work on a small working farm. Whether you have cerebral palsy, hearing impairment, autism, ADHD you are welcome and included. Curly’s Farm is an incredibly special place where all children are welcome.

Do you have any advice for people considering adoption?

Be VERY certain you want to adopt as this is FOR LIFE. Be willing to change your entire life. Be open to love and to experiencing things you have never, ever felt before.

Garry is @Garryrat on Twitter.

For more information on adopting, visit the #Youcanadopt website.  

Let us know what you think:

  • Do you have any experience of adoption?
  • What more could promote the adoption of disabled children?
  • Do you have any messages for Garry and his family?

Tell us in the comments below.

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  • chiarieds
    chiarieds Member Posts: 12,433 Disability Gamechanger
    I was adopted as a 6 month year old baby, having been left outside a branch of the Church of England's Children's Society well clothed & with a name attached. My adoptive parents were my Mum & Dad, & I couldn't have had better. I was brought up knowing I was adopted, & it seems the rest of the family accepted me.
    I got on amazingly with my eldest cousin (who was nearly 20 years older than me), & my parents made every opportunity for us to see each other. Sadly she died from renal failure, a complication of Systemic Lupus Erythamatosis in her late 30's.
    When I eventually worked out the genetic disorder I had, & had this confirmed by a specialist in my disorder, I told a younger cousin, whom I'd kept in touch with over the years because of how close I'd felt to her older sister. She wrote back that it was a shame I hadn't come with a tag on my toe saying my medical problems as a baby. Sorry to say I didn't write back.
    My parents adopted me not knowing I had a genetic disorder, but were always there for me when unexplained pain entered my life. They were there for me with everything.
    To Garry & family, I would like to say thank you for knowingly adopting children with a disability; I'm sure they enrich your lives as much as you do them......you will make a difference. :)
  • Cher_Inactive
    Cher_Inactive Posts: 4,402 Scope online community team
    @chiarieds Thank you much for sharing your story  <3 I am so happy your parents provided you with a loving, stable home and everything you could ever need.  

    We really are indebted to people who adopt, such as Garry and his husband.  Their beautiful kids look so happy and you can tell how much the relationship brings to each of their lives.  
    Online Community Co-ordinator

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  • janer1967
    janer1967 Member Posts: 15,882 Disability Gamechanger
    Thanls for sharing @chiarieds

    On the topic of adoption I think the process needs to be less  complicated and more timely. I have known of 3 couples wanting to adopt and seen hoe stressful the process is.

    I understand the need to have checks on the potential adopters but the lengths they go to is very extreme, they dont make any checks on birth parents 

    One of my friends gave up sadly trying due to the invasive nature , she had an abortion years before when she was in a very abusive relationship and this went against her and they wanted to drag it all u and contact the abuser etc 

    As a HR manager I had to complete the forms they send to employers when trying to adopt and they were like war and peace

    Obviously this wasnt really related to disabled adoptions its just the process in general


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