Wales

Adoption: Families' new support is 'crucial'

Mike and Tony in a bedroom decorated for a young boy Image copyright NAS
Image caption Mike and Tony adopted a boy who spent two years in care

When Tony and Mike adopted a young boy, they were unsure what to do when he started screaming at night.

But after help from a psychologist and a mentor they were able to cope.

Now, families across Wales will have access to similar support after ministers gave £2.3m to strengthen adoption support services.

Suzanne Griffiths of the National Adoption Service said the money would boost support available to adoptive families.

Tony and Mike, who live in Cardiff, adopted their son six months ago after he spent two years in care.

"They [the adoption agency] put in place support, anything that comes up that we're not sure of, we can go to a psychologist," said Tony.

"He started having night terrors, screaming and crying, we were not sure what to do, so it's nice to have that reassurance that we're doing the best we can and give us advice.

"He's gone through more than anyone in a lifetime and he's still asking 'am I going to leave you', that's a big burden for a young child, so it's nice to have the support.

"When he has tantrums, we think 'are they typical tantrums, or is this something else?' He's got a lot of baggage hidden away.

"We know now if something crops up, we've got support. I wouldn't change it for the world."

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Media captionOne adoptive couple said they were left "at the end of our tether" and blamed lack of help from the start.

Support Tony and Mike had access to has not been available to everyone - but the investment will help to make it "available consistently", Ms Griffiths said.

The National Adoption Service in Wales dealt with 167 new requests for post-adoption support in 2017-18 - up by about a third on the year before.

Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, Julie Morgan, announced the funding at an event where she also officially launched the new Adoption Register Wales, which aims to match families and children and speed up the adoption process.

National Adoption Service Cymru

2017/18

  • 300 children placed in new adoptive homes

  • 500 children helped with adoption support services

  • 167 new requests for post-adoption support

  • 150 requests for help in contacting a birth family

  • 16% of looked after children came into contact with the service

Getty Images

Part of the investment has also been used to match-fund £250,000 from the National Lottery Community Fund, granted to Adoption UK Cymru, for its Therapeutic Education Support Services in Adoption (TESSA) programme.

Ann Bell, development manager of AUK Cymru, said: "TESSA gives an adoptive family access to a clinical psychologist and an experienced adopter, giving them coping strategies and an insight into how other parents have worked through challenges to help their family flourish.

"Early intervention is crucial to successful adoptions. The additional funding from Welsh Government will significantly increase the scale and reach of TESSA in Wales, making it more widely-available to new adoptive families."

Mrs Morgan said the Welsh Government funding would provide support to adopters and children being adopted.

"As well as ensuring that adoptive families can be found more quickly, this funding will enable the adoption regions to improve further the provision of adoption support services in their area," she added.

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