Make 2024 the year you transform a child’s life, says Cumbria Adoption

Westmorland & Furness residents thinking about adopting in 2024 could be matched with a child in need of a new loving family within the year, says Cumbria Adoption.

The county’s adoption agency, which works on behalf of Cumberland Council and Westmorland & Furness Council, has launched its new Adopt 2024 campaign to encourage would-be adopters to begin their journey by finding out more about the adoption process and the needs of the Cumbrian children being placed for adoption.

“It’s very much a myth that the process for adopting takes years,” says Cumbria Adoption Recruitment and Assessment Team Manager Zoe Chambers.

“If you enquire with Cumbria Adoption soon, are approved to adopt, and are open to adopting children within our three priority groups, you could be growing your family and transforming a child’s life this year in 2024.”

Adopters can be approved to adopt after a six-month assessment and training process. The groups of children waiting longest for adoption in Cumbria and nationwide are brothers and sisters, children aged 3 to 4 and over, and children with additional needs.

Zoe says: “It’s so important that sisters and brothers stay together whenever possible, as it’s a lifelong bond, and they have shared the same experiences that have led to adoption.

“Adopting children from aged 3 or 4 and over can be just as rewarding as adopting a younger child. It can often be clearer what the child’s personality and individual needs are, and there are still many more special ‘firsts’ to share together as you give them the stable and loving future they need.

“We always need more adopters who can care for a child with additional or complex needs. The rewards can be tremendous and often the support you can give will help the child catch up developmentally and be a happy member of your family.

“We will give you training and resources, connect you with other adopters who have had similar experiences, and we have a dedicated team providing ongoing post-adoption support to our children and adopters.”

Cumbria Adoption has placed 37 children in their new adoptive families from April-December 2023. Ten were placed with their brother or sister, and one group of three brothers was adopted together.

The largest group of children placed were aged between 1 and 2 (fifteen children), eight were 2-3 years old, six were 4-5 years old, with three being 6-7 years old.

Many prospective adopters understandably first come to us wanting a young baby, but only five children place since April 2023 were babies under 1 year old. The reality now is that the majority of children placed for adoption are older, usually only after all agencies involved have tried to support the birth parents to care for their children.

Cumbria Adoption is part of a project aimed at giving more children the opportunity to live in their adoptive family as soon as possible where they can’t live with their birth family.

You will hear this talked about as “Early Permanence”, and this will be the main way very young children will join their adoptive family.

Prospective adopters care for the child as a foster family while the Court decides their future. The adopters will be able to meet the birth family during the fostering stage.

Cumbria Adoption Service Manager Ruth McHugh says: “Early Permanence should be welcomed and understood by everyone affected by stories of children in care having to move families, and Cumbria Adoption needs adopters who are child-centred and can see all the rewards, while being resilient to the uncertainty it entails,”

“The good thing is, the adults manage the uncertainty so children can have stability. We will be offering special support and training during 2024 for all those considering this route.”

Cumbria Adoption’s Adopt 2024 campaign runs for two weeks from January 22 to February 4. It involves a media and social media campaign, a new website at cumbriaadoption.org.uk, easier ways to get in touch and seek information, and promotion of upcoming online information events and 1-1 appointments with the Cumbria Adoption team for potential adopters to find out more.

Cumbria Adoption welcomes adopters from all communities in Cumbria and may also consider applicants from neighbouring parts of Lancashire, Dumfries & Galloway, Northumberland and North Yorkshire. Adopters are welcomed regardless of age, marital status, gender, sexuality, disability, or employment status.

Information on adoption, who can adopt, the adoption process, the children in need of adoption, and adopter stories, can all be found at cumbriaadoption.org.uk

Cllr Emma Williamson, Executive member for Children and Family Wellbeing, at Cumberland Council, said: “The New Year is a time for many of us to think of our future family. If you’ve been thinking about adoption there is a real prospect of transforming a child’s life in 2024, so please get in touch with Cumbria Adoption and find out all the options.”

Cllr Sue Sanderson, Cabinet member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills at Westmorland and Furness Council, said: “Every year our three priority groups of brothers and sisters, older children and those with additional needs, are most in need of adoptive families. Cumbria Adoption’s team will support you to think about what you can offer and the rewards for a child and your family.”

To find out more, request a call back, join an online information event, book a 1-1 meeting, or register your interest in adoption in, visit cumbriaadoption.org.uk.


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