GEMMA GOR­DON-JOHN­SON IS THE HEAD OF SER­VICE AT FIRST4A­DOP­TION

Pride Life Magazine - - SPONSORED FEATURE -

When was First4A­dop­tion founded?

First4A­dop­tion was founded in Jan­uary 2013. It is the first na­tional adop­tion ser­vice for peo­ple in­ter­ested in adopt­ing a child in Eng­land.

What ser­vices do you of­fer peo­ple look­ing to adopt?

First4A­dop­tion’s award-win­ning website and in­for­ma­tion line pro­vide an im­par­tial guide to the adop­tion process and the type of sup­port avail­able for adop­tive par­ents and fam­i­lies. first4a­dop­tion. org.uk also of­fers free e-learn­ing ma­te­ri­als plus down­loads and we­b­casts to help peo­ple un­der­stand the chal­lenges and re­wards of par­ent­ing an adopted child. We can also put you in touch with adop­tion agen­cies in your area and an­swer any spe­cific ques­tions you may have about adop­tion.

What cri­te­ria must peo­ple who are look­ing to adopt ful­fil? Are there any peo­ple who are not al­lowed to adopt?

The most im­por­tant things are the de­sire and abil­ity to pro­vide a safe and lov­ing home for a child. Adop­tive par­ents come from ev­ery type of back­ground and com­mu­nity. Suc­cess­ful adopters can be LGBT, sin­gle, co-habit­ing, mar­ried/ civil part­ners, over 40, have a dis­abil­ity, hold re­li­gious views, or al­ready have their own chil­dren. The only peo­ple au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied from ap­ply­ing to adopt are: those un­der 21 years of age, non-UK res­i­dents and any­one with a se­ri­ous crim­i­nal con­vic­tion.

Are there any spe­cific things which LGBT peo­ple should take into ac­count when con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing a child?

Largely, these are the same things any po­ten­tial adopter would need to con­sider. If you don’t have much con­tact with young chil­dren in your daily life, then it’s use­ful to get some ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore ap­ply­ing to adopt. This could be look­ing af­ter friends’ or rel­a­tives’ chil­dren or vol­un­teer­ing at a pre-school or chil­dren’s club.

Sin­gle adopters, same-sex cou­ples and trans peo­ple may want to think about their net­work of fam­ily and friends and where their child might find role mod­els among adults of both gen­ders.

Are there any ad­van­tages for a child be­ing adopted by a LGBT person or cou­ple?

Chil­dren who are adopted can have ques­tions about their iden­tity, or feel “dif­fer­ent” at times. LGBT adopters are often able to bring great em­pa­thy to their par­ent­ing and can be very wellplaced to deal with these kinds of is­sues.

What are the main stages in ap­ply­ing to adopt a child?

Firstly you need to gather in­for­ma­tion about adop­tion to help you de­cide if it’s right for you. The First4A­dop­tion website has lots of use­ful read­ing ma­te­rial and case stud­ies of peo­ple who have suc­cess­fully adopted. Our in­for­ma­tion line ad­vis­ers can an­swer any ques­tions you might have and put you in touch with adop­tion agen­cies in your area. We ad­vise con­tact­ing a few adop­tion agen­cies and at­tend­ing their in­for­ma­tion evenings to learn more. You then need to choose an adop­tion agency and sub­mit a reg­is­tra­tion of in­ter­est form.

The adopter ap­proval process hap­pens in two parts. Stage 1 in­volves the agency car­ry­ing out a num­ber of back­ground checks and start­ing your adopter prepa­ra­tion train­ing. Stage 2 in­volves more in­ten­sive train­ing to help you pre­pare to be an adop­tive par­ent. Fol­low­ing this, an adop­tion panel will meet you, con­sider re­ports from your adop­tion agency, and rec­om­mend whether or not to ap­prove you as an adopter. Af­ter ap­proval, you are matched with an adop­tive child.

From choos­ing an adop­tion agency, how long would one rea­son­ably ex­pect to wait be­fore adopt­ing a child?

Stage 1 lasts two months and Stage 2 should take four months. Ap­proved adopters can cur­rently ex­pect to wait be­tween six and twelve months to be matched with a child.

What would you say are the great­est chal­lenges an adop­tive par­ent or par­ents face?

Chil­dren who are placed for adop­tion come from many dif­fer­ent back­grounds and from a range of dif­fer­ent eth­nic­i­ties and re­li­gions. All will have had un­set­tled lives and need par­ents who can of­fer them love and care to help them re­build trust in adults. They will also have ex­pe­ri­enced loss and sep­a­ra­tion, even when adopted shortly af­ter birth. Sadly, many of these chil­dren will also have been ne­glected or abused or have spe­cific med­i­cal prob­lems or a learn­ing dis­abil­ity.

And the great­est sat­is­fac­tion?

Adop­tion is a life­long com­mit­ment re­quir­ing skill, em­pa­thy, en­ergy, pa­tience – and a sense of hu­mour! But there’s no greater re­ward than trans­form­ing a child’s life for­ever and build­ing a happy, ful­filled fam­ily.

“The most im­por­tant things are the de­sire and abil­ity to pro­vide a safe and lov­ing home for a child”

GEMMA GOR­DON-JOHN­SON

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