A Yorkshire council has taken the unusual step of publicising details of some of the 90 children it has up for adoption in the hope of finding them a forever family. Catherine Scott reports.
Four year-old Mandy is a girl with a massive personality and a cheeky smile to match.
Like many girls her age, she enjoys jigsaws, baking, role playing and dressing up. Mandy was placed into care a year ago after suffering from neglect. Before going into care, she was often left to take care of her two younger siblings. She was also exposed to drug and alcohol misuse and domestic violence. Consequently Mandy’s behaviour can on occasion be challenging, often clinging to her foster carer for support, and she needs a lot of love and cuddles.
Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Jenna has an engaging smile and personality. As with many children awaiting adoption, the four-year old has had a difficult start to life. Born at 27 weeks with under-developed lungs, she spent time in intensive care until she was three months old and now uses an inhaler to aid breathing.
Jenna can be shy but when she gets to know you can be excitable and loud. Since being placed in to foster care 12 months ago after suffering from neglect she has responded well to settled routines and boundaries. She has a condition known as “torticollis” (tilted neck), which will not require surgery, but she will need continued exercises.
Now, as she approaches her fifth birthday, Jenna is in need of a nurturing adoptive family who can continue to support her with her journey.
James is a “happy, go-lucky child, with a cheeky side and a great sense of fun” who has been in care since he was two weeks old. Soon to celebrate his fourth birthday, he loves nothing better than to play with his favourite toy trucks. He has a particular fondness for the outdoors and never misses an opportunity to potter around the garden and help to feed the neighbour’s chickens. He has the sickle cell trait, but it doesn’t cause him any health problems.
With striking blue eyes and infectious smile, one-and-a-half year-old Marcus is a happy, contented little boy, who loves being the centre of attention. He is very affectionate and enjoys lots of cuddles and playing with brightly-coloured toys.
Marcus was taken into care at just three weeks old. He has since lived with his foster carers.
Marcus is currently being monitored for possible developmental issues. He is in need of a permanent family who can provide him with the love and understanding he needs in order for him to continue to achieve his full potential.
Adam, two, is the kind of child who can light up a room with his bright eyes and dazzling smile, and he loves interacting with others.
Since being placed into foster care when he was nearly two months, Adam has remained with the same foster family. They enjoy looking after him and haven’t experienced any difficulties with him.
He is a happy, alert child, who understands what is being said to him. He can say a few words and is starting to copy what others are saying. Although developmentally, he is around three months younger than his age, Adam’s progress is not a cause for concern and he is reaching expected milestones.
He wears boots to encourage better walking. He also wears contact lenses and sees the ophthalmologist every six weeks. He loves going to the play gym, doing rhyming action songs, but above all just loves to be tickled.
These are just five of some 90 children Kirklees District Council is trying to find permanent and loving “forever” families.
“Many of the Kirklees children in need of adopting have been unable to remain with their birth families, because of neglect, abuse or perhaps just because their parents are unable to cope.
“Some may have suffered traumatic experiences in their short lives, others have learning difficulties or health problems,” said Cath Harris, Cabinet member for Children’s Services. “These children have so much to offer and all they are asking is to be part of a family. As well as being hugely rewarding for a parent, the benefits of adoption to a child are immense. By being given the chance to grow up in a permanent, loving environment they stand the best chance of overcoming many of these issues and ultimately, thrive.”
They are looking for couples like Claire and Richard, who adopted two siblings via Kirklees Council; a two and a four-year old in 2009, followed by a third child, aged 18 months, two years later.
With Richard’s two sons from a previous relationship, Claire, 35 and her 48-year old husband, Richard, had always wanted to add to their family. Unable to have children of their own, they looked to Kirklees Council to complete their family.
“Once we decided to adopt, Richard and I had set our hearts on having three children. Not really knowing what to expect or how long the adoption process would take, we attended an information event at Kirklees Council and were able to get answers to the many questions we had,” says Claire.
“After going through the necessary checks, interviews and an adoption panel, we were matched with two siblings.
“From there on, things moved quickly and we began regular visits with the children before finally bringing them home for good.
“What struck us about the adoption process was that it took just a matter of months, when we had anticipated it might take years.
“I clearly remember meeting the siblings for the first time. Any anxieties we’d had beforehand soon faded away as the bond between us was almost immediate. Upon entering the room the first thing the youngest sibling, aged just two at the time, said to me was: ‘you’re my mummy’.
“When the siblings first came to us they had various issues, both physically and developmentally. We had been prepared for this and have been able to address this over time with love and attention.
“We also received a lot of ongoing support from Kirklees Council both pre and post-adoption and I’m really proud to see how far all three of our children have come since we adopted them.
“Without a doubt, adoption has enriched and changed our lives for the better and there is no question that all three of our adopted children are very much a part of our family.
“It’s the little things I’ve come to appreciate about being a mother – from being told “I love you” in the middle of a busy supermarket, to seeing them happily messing around with their older brothers – for me there is no greater feel-good factor than my family.”
Urgent need for new families
In Kirklees the number of children awaiting adoption has risen three-fold in recent years, up from 33 in 2009 to around 90 in 2012. The Council needs families for babies and children of all ages, sibling groups and children with differing needs. Last month it launched a campaign which runs until March 31 to find homes for the ‘Kirklees 90’. Adopters can: come from all ages (over 21) and backgrounds, be single, male or female, married or unmarried, same sex couples, divorced, with or without children, of any religious faith or none at all, of any cultural background, homeowners or renting, employed, self employed, or on benefits. For information visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/adopting