National Adoption Week kicks off in Hackney

As we prepare to mark National Adoption Week 2008 (10-16 November) Hackney’s Adoption and Fostering Unit says the need for permanent families for children in the borough is as great as ever.

Hackney’s Adoption and Fostering Unit is looking for loving supportive committed families for children from Black, Asian and dual heritage backgrounds, siblings, and children with development problems. They welcome applications from all communities, particularly the black minority ethnic community from the local area and neighbouring boroughs.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “Every child is special and deserves to grow up in a loving, secure family.

“The process for becoming an adoptive parent is rigorous, and that is as it should be. But please don’t think we’ll turn you down because you’re over 40, for example, single, or don’t own your own home. What we really need are people who can offer care and love. People who can help a child recover from the reasons why they came in to care and can help them go on to thrive.

“Initially, we are simply asking people to come forward and find out more about adoption. If you think you might have what it takes, please get in touch.”

People wishing to find out more about what’s involved in adopting can attend a special information event on Tuesday 11 November at West Ham Football Ground, jointly organised by six east London borough adoption agencies - Barking & Dagenham, Hackney, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest, which make up the thinkadoption group (otherwise known as the north east london adoption group).

There will be information stalls, a short presentation which will run throughout the day and refreshments. Adopters and members of the adoption teams will be on hand to answer all your questions about adoption and talk about the children who need loving families and the type of support that is available for you and your family.

For more information about the event or adoption in Hackney call: 020 8356 6320; email:; or visit: or

Hackney case study

Olivia spotted Julian’s photo in the Daily Mirror. It was National Adoption Week 1993. Looking at his cute smile, she couldn’t understand how it could be so difficult to find this little boy a loving home. Olivia picked up the phone and called Hackney’s Adoption Service.

It was clear straight away that she and her husband Michael were serious about adoption. Olivia couldn’t have children, and the idea of adoption had never been far from her mind since she worked with abused children. One day a young girl asked her if she could adopt her - her first instinct was to take her home (though she didn’t).

Despite their commitment, the adoption process was not plain sailing. Hackney asked lots of questions, ‘some, funny questions,’ says Olivia. ‘I think a lot of men find it difficult to have so many questions about their private lives.’ Michael however sailed through it. For Olivia it was tougher - it dredged up feelings from when her parents first came to live in the UK while she stayed in the Caribbean with her grandparents.

But was it just questions from Hackney? No says Olivia, who talks enthusiastically about their exceptional link worker who supports the family and has helped them negotiate some tough situations. She says Hackney has also learnt some useful lessons over the last few years. Its three days course for prospective adopters for example has improved. Not only does it help prospective adopters to understand what they are taking on, it also looks at teaching them about some of the specific educational and behavioural needs that adopted children can have.

At one point in the adoption process the couple thought they might be ruled out from adopting Julian. “Julian is of dual heritage (Black African and White) and I come form the Caribbean and Michael is from Ghana, we weren’t an obvious match. Fortunately Julian was half African too. In the end that was enough.”

In fact it has became a real bonus for the family – Julian, now 19, has always asked questions about Africa, says Olivia, and this has become a positive part of growing up for him. Michael and Olivia have since adopted three more children. All of them - Jacob 12, Hanna, 7 and Sophie, 3 - are dual heritage.

So what does Olivia say to people thinking of adopting? ‘The joy that the children give you far outweighs any problems. Some people are afraid, but who wants a quiet house with no children and no grandchildren?’