Tue. Apr 16th, 2024

From finding birth parents to adopting children of their own – eight people share their stories (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

For many people who have been adopted, they consider their new family as a ‘second chance’.

However, for a growing number, it’s a dream that may not become a reality, as over the last five years, there has been a 23% drop in the number of children being adopted.

Those over five wait 17 months more than kids aged four and under, while Black children wait six months longer than the average for all young people.

That’s why the organisation You Can Adopt – run by a national group of regional and voluntary adoption agencies across the country – has launched a powerful new portrait series and film, sharing the stories of different generations of adopted people.

Capturing their experiences on camera is fashion and celebrity photographer Philip Sinden, who is himself adopted.

The backdrop to each of his portraits feature words the participants associate with being adopted – with descriptions such as ‘incomplete’ or ‘hidden’ being replaced by ‘hope’ and ‘belonging’ throughout their journey.

While historically, adoption was often treated with stigma, with little information and support provided to help people understand their history or maintain connections with their birth family, these days it is considered vital adoptees have a strong understanding of their history.

Here, some of the campaign’s voices share their stories to highlight the power – and potential – of adoption.

Callum was adopted when he was four-years-old. He always felt like he had two families but, in his opinion, that was never a bad thing. Instead, it’s something he has taken pride in. Callum’s adoptive parents have always spoken very openly and positively about his birth family, so it always felt very normal. He also proudly discusses his situation with friends. When he was a teenager, Callum decided he wanted to reach out to his birth mother, and did so with the support of his parents. Three months later, they met in person for the first time. Callum and his birth mum have since stayed in touch. Recently, she asked if he would walk her down the aisle at her wedding next year. Callum said yes. (Picture: You Can Adopt)

Isabelle was adopted from Sri Lanka in 1983, when she was six-months-old. She was adopted by an English couple who brought her to Britain and raised her along with their biological sons in the suburbs of Loughborough. Growing up in the 80s, even though she always knew she was adopted, it was not something that was openly discussed. Because of this, she didn’t grow up with a full sense of her identity and her history. Many years later, she decided to look for her birth mother, and then found her. They spoke on Facetime, with the help of a translator, and it helped give Isabelle answers to some of the questions she had always wanted to know.  (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

Isabelle’s story doesn’t stop there… Adoption changed her life, and she decided to follow in her adoptive parents’ footsteps. She was soon able to extend an offer of a nurturing loving home and opportunities for a child to thrive. Isabelle went on to adopt her son, Nathanial (above), from Uganda. The adoption was finalised in 2011. A few years later, Isabelle also adopted her daughter, MG, in the UK. After her own experiences, Isabelle is passionate about creating an open environment for her children around the topic of adoption. She wants them to feel as comfortable as possible asking any questions they may have, and is supporting her daughter in maintaining contact with her birth family. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

Joy was adopted from Nigeria. Growing up in Lincolnshire, she struggled during her childhood to find her place. She faced vile racism at school and dealt with trauma from her past. While she encountered difficulties, Joe says her adoptive parents constantly supported her through thick and thin. In her 20s, after moving to London, she found comedy and met friends who had also been adopted. They had been through similar experiences and – bolstered by this – she began to untangle her history. Joy is now a comedian in London, and has used humour as a way to explore her adoption experience. She is incredibly passionate about adoption – and wants to encourage prospective parents to consider it. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

Nick, broadcaster and pop culture expert, was adopted in Scotland in the 1970s. He only found out he was adopted at the age of 14, which drew up many questions about his history and sense of identity. During the COVID-19 lockdown, he took a DNA test and was able to find out he was half-Italian, half English. This spurred a search to find his birth parents. Through the TV show Long Lost Families, he was able to find his mother, and brother and sister. In a twist of fate, they didn’t live far from where he recently moved. Nick has since made contact with them and is starting a relationship with this new family. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

 Rico is a football-mad 12-year-old who plays for the U13s at Manchester City Football Club Academy. He was taken into care as a baby and spent years in the foster care system before finding his forever family alongside his two older sisters. Rico is an everyday boy, with an extraordinary story to tell in his debut book – ‘Strong And Tough’. It’s based on his story through the character of Charlie. When Charlie’s birth parents were unable to look after him, he and his two sisters were taken into foster care. His book explores how his new family – and football – helped him rediscover his identity and love himself. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

Luke, 27, was adopted in 1999, when he was three-years-old. He was placed in short term foster care, and adopted alongside his younger brother, while his three older siblings went to another family. His adoptive parents supported direct contact and the siblings built a strong bond as a result. Growing up, Luke had a life story book, and memory box which was helpful for him to learn about his past and where he came from. He always knew he was adopted, but when he became a teenager, he started asking more questions as he started to work out his identity. Luke now works in the field of social care. He feels proud to be adopted, and says it has shaped who is he today. Luke would tell people thinking about adoption to go for it – that even though there may be bumps along the way, you could change someone’s life. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

Samantha’s family is unique – she is from a family which has three generations of adopted people. Her adoptive mother is herself adopted and Samantha has an adopted son, whom she brought into her home when she was 48. Samantha’s adoptive mother sadly never had information on her birth story. The adoption process was very different in those days. Samantha began her own search for her birth mother twenty-five years ago, which was difficult because of the closed adoption system. Sadly, she discovered too late that her mother had passed away three years previously. This was devastating to her but a silver lining soon formed in the discovery of her birth aunt. They met 25 years ago and have been close ever since. They holiday together as families every year. Later, by chance, Samantha discovered her birth father through the DNA search site 23andme, which opened up a whole new extended family in America. While she never met either parents, she has discovered more about them, how they met and their interesting lives which helped her learn more about her own traits and talents. (Picture: Philip Sindon/You Can Adopt)

The You Can Adopt campaign is encouraging prospective adopters to come forward and highlights the impact adopting a child could have on their life.  

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If you are inspired by the above stories and would like to look into beginning your own adoption story, then click here.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing Kirsten.Robertson@metro.co.uk 

Share your views in the comments below.

READ MORE: I met my birth mum after 11 years – her question took me by surprise

READ MORE: ‘I adopted my husband’s ex-wife’s baby – I didn’t want him in foster care like I was’

READ MORE: Britain’s secret history: How 70,000 Black children ended up being privately ‘farmed’ to white families

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