Support for adopting couples
The government has recently announced some significant changes to the UK adoption process that should help not only the children involved but also couples going through what is an exciting but often highly stressful transition in their relationship.
These changes build on a range of other measures already taken to speed up the existing adoption process which is recognised as being too lengthy. This new package of support aims to make it far easier for couples to make that vital first connection with a child in advance. There will be greater emphasis on finding a good match between prospective parents and children.
New measures will include Adoption Activity Days where couples can meet children waiting for adoption in an informal and fun setting, encouraging them to make a connection with a child. Building on the natural chemistry between couples and children in the early days of meeting can provide a much stronger foundation for more successful adoptions.
The Pilot Activity Days have been very effective in finding homes for around one in five children. Moreover there is also evidence that these days are especially helpful in matching harder to place children and teenagers with prospective parents.
The government is also ensuring that there is more paid leave for couples after they have adopted; this will mean both pay and leave will be more in-line with maternity and paternity leave for biological parents. This is crucial as it means new adoptive parents can spend more time bonding with their child. Couples will also soon have the legal right to take time off from work to meet the children they are planning to adopt, which should help make the transition as smooth as possible;
Free early education is also being extended to include adopted two year olds from 2014 and will give them priority school access from 2013.
In addition there will also be a new telephone helpline being launched. The helpline will be manned by adoptive parents who can both share their stories and crucially give advice based on their first hand experience. A new National Gateway for Adoption online service is being launched for the early stages of adoption making it simpler for anyone who is considering adoption to find relevant information.
OnePlusOne supports these changes but would also like to draw attention to the fact that the adoption process puts the couple relationship under a range of unique stresses and strains.
After months or years of waiting for a child to be placed, some couples may think that once they have adopted the hardest part is behind them. But with adoption comes a range of adjustments that even the strongest of couples might need support with.
Particularly important is how to acknowledge and talk about individual emotions associated with adopting. Help with communication skills, managing conflict and making very difficult decisions together will be needed by most couples at some point or other.
OnePlusOne’s relationship support service thecoupleconnection.net has a wealth of materials that can really help with communication, conflict and decision making and keep a couple’s relationship strong through the various ups and downs.
If you have adopted a child or are going through the adoption process we would love to hear from you. What particular stresses and strains has the process placed on your relationship? How have you overcome difficulties, did you get the support you needed? Leave your comments below.