A shortage of potential adopters in Torbay is making it difficult to give children permanent homes, says the south west region’s adoption agency, Adopt South West.

Kath Drescher, Service Manager of Adopt South West, says;

“In some parts of the region we have a concentration of approved adopters, but we don’t have sufficient numbers in Torbay and surrounding areas and having that geographic spread of approved adopters is really important. Sometimes we need to find the right match with individuals and families outside those areas. And Torbay is an area where we currently have too few adopters coming forward.”

The call comes as Adopt South West, the new regional adoption agency covering Torbay, Devon, Plymouth and Somerset, confirms that they have 76 children currently awaiting adoption (16 of whom are children in the Torbay area), ranging in age from babies to school age children.

“Some of the children and babies currently waiting to be adopted have brothers and sisters, and we always try to keep siblings together whenever we can” says Kath.

“I talk to adoptive parents a lot and they will all tell me that their lives now feel all the fuller and more worthwhile as a family. There’s no doubt that its hard work - any parent will tell you that - but it’s so rewarding.

“There is ongoing support, from our service and support from other adopters. There is a thorough process - there has to be, of course - but it’s not as difficult or onerous as people first think.

Research last year showed that although lots of people have considered adoption or they would consider adopting in the future, only around a quarter of them in the South West thought that they would be eligible.  In fact, eligibility is commonly misunderstood even though there’s relatively little that would prevent it being possible. People from a variety of backgrounds, including single parents, people from all religions, people from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities can all be eligible to adopt.

Kath adds: “Our aim is to dispel myths around who is eligible to adopt and highlight that, especially during the COVID pandemic, there are still children out there who are looking for their new family.

Debbie’s story

Debbie is a single parent from Torbay who adopted her daughter after fostering her through Torbay Council. Debbie went on to adopt with Adopt South West and hasn’t looked back since. She tells us why it is she considers adoption to be best thing she has ever done and how her daughter is an absolute delight.

Debbie says: “I can personally recommend adoption because I now have a beautiful daughter who has made my life so much more joyous. I began my adoption journey with a different approach as I was a foster carer first. I was fostering a little girl and it soon became apparent that my two adult daughters and I could not imagine life without her. My daughter has a severe disability that needs round the clock care, however, don’t let that stop you as she brings such joy and happiness to our family and all who actually meet her. She has the most infectious smile and the best belly laugh. She has this amazing ability to melt every person’s heart who has the pleasure to meet her. My adult daughters are a huge help in caring for her too, and they have embraced having a little sister to love and cherish.

“The assessing social worker from Adopt South West has been an amazing support. He/she has been the most encouraging and supportive person through the roller coaster of emotions you feel, I believe, and would like to think that we have made a friend for life.

“Giving this little girl a loving family for life has been the most amazing gift that we can give her but also the most precious gift she has given us.”

Councillor Steve Darling, Leader of Torbay Council, said: “I was adopted as a baby, so I know first-hand what it means to find a loving family. There are children in Torbay and across the South West that are looking for loving homes, from young children to older children, from single children to sibling groups, no matter their background, all they need is their forever family to change their life.

“Love, time and commitment to a child are three of the most important attributes you can have to adopt a child. As we head towards the end of the year, which is often a time for reflection and making New Year resolutions, I’d like to urge people to think about how they can make a difference to a child that may not have had the best start in life.”

Kath adds: “And barriers to adopting? There are actually very few. It’s more to do with a person’s natural ability, their personal skills, making sure they can provide a safe and loving home. It’s not about race, religion, sexual identity, marital status, or whether they own their own home.

“We want people feel confident taking the first steps towards adopting a child, so please join an information event and find out more.”

Adoption information events

  • Wednesday 13 January - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Tuesday 19 January - 5:30 pm to 7:30pm
  • Thursday 28 January - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Monday 1 February - 1pm to 3pm
  • Wednesday 10 February - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Tuesday 16 February - 5:30pm to 7:30pm
  • Thursday 25 February - 5:30pm to 7:30pm

Adopt South West hold online information events where you can hear from a local adopter and get your questions answered by a friendly member of the adoption team. The events aim to inform you of the services they provide and the vulnerable children who are currently waiting.

Adopt South West is urging people from any background who are considering adoption to take the next steps. The adoption process has changed over the years; it is simpler and quicker than it has been previously and there is a lot more support available.

If you’re interested in finding out more, please get in touch with Adopt South West, please call us on 0345 155 1076 or email adoptsouthwest@devon.gov.uk.

Read more personal accounts from adopters as they describe their experiences.

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