Adoptive parents are often left feeling unsupported and overwhelmed says Lancaster University Professor Laura Machin who has launched a project to help support them.
Professor Machin – herself both an adopted child and an adoptive parent – sits on the All Party Parliamentary Group on Adoption and Permanence.
She launched the Adopters Advocacy project to highlight the voices and needs of prospective adopters and adopters during the adoption process and after a child has been placed, without diminishing the needs of adoptees and their birth families.
Growing numbers of children are being looked after by local authorities, with approximately 80,000 children in care. But despite the growing need for adoption, fewer people are contemplating adoption when planning their family, and those who do adopt describe themselves as in crisis, or the adoption placement breaks down.
Professor Machin, from Lancaster Medical School, said: “It is emotionally challenging to be an adopter and adoptive parents can feel powerless in the face of the system, and overwhelmed by the demands of caring for children who have experience early adversity and trauma in their lives.
“Adopters are often left alone to deal with not just post adoption depression, but even PTSD, secondary trauma and compassion fatigue.
“The system does not adequately support adopters so through the Adopters Advocacy project we want to listen to their stories, learning from their experiences on how better to support them in the future.”
As an adopted child herself, Professor Machin believes adoption can be made to work when properly supported.
“I was very lucky to be adopted by a loving family so I know how adoption can be a transformative experience for everyone involved.
“We want to improve the chances of a happy ending for other adoptive parents through investigating and addressing the support needs of current and prospective adoptive parents so that the system can be improved for everyone.”
The Adopters Advocacy project aims to:
- promote and conduct high-quality interdisciplinary research about adopters needs throughout Lancaster University and beyond to have a tangible impact on policy, practice and process
- develop collaborations with key stakeholders in the adoption community across the UK and beyond, working together to generate research that improves the adoption experience for adopters
- provide a locus for external funding applications for research that places a focus on adopters needs