Anna Sharkey’s Review of 2023

While 2023 has seen a lot of movement in the rapidly changing adoption sector, Adoption Focus has continued to grow as an organisation and confirm its position as one of the largest, best resourced voluntary adoption agencies in England. We’re fortunate to have an experienced, committed management group, and a hard-working, talented and growing staff team based across the East and West Midlands, from Cheshire down to Buckinghamshire, working with families, adopters and potential adopters across the region.

Our online information events have continued to be the most popular way for people to find out all about adoption. Hundreds of people have joined us at these weekly sessions throughout 2023 to learn about the process and the support available to everyone who adopts with us. Alongside these we’ve also introduced new, monthly ‘priority children’ information events to explain the early permanence pathway to adoption and its benefits for children who tend to wait longest to be adopted. 

High attendance at information events has led to correspondingly high numbers of people starting the adoption process with us. Couples and single people, from across the central region, and from all backgrounds, have chosen Adoption Focus as their agency. These applicants know that alongside the expert preparation and training they’ll receive from our friendly, professional team throughout the process, they can also rely on our dedicated adoption support team for help if ever and whenever it’s required. Our support function has been expanded again this year to include more ‘Twilight’ sessions, bringing in external professionals to speak about subject such as the psychology of children’s behaviour and anxiety, and more work with the family and friends of adopters to help them understand how they can provide the right backing. This has enhanced our already comprehensive – and Ofsted Outstanding rated – support provision, comprising direct work, training, workshops, and informal support through our regular social events, including parties, picnics, play and stay sessions and provisions for teenagers and tweens.

Our online platform, Adopterverse, is another element of our adoption support that we’ve continued to expand this year. Funded by Comic Relief through their Tech for Good programme, Adopterverse is a safe environment for our adopters to access information and connect with one another, and among the many new developments for this during 2023 has been our Education in Focus podcast, which is proving extremely popular. Look out for exciting news on both Adopterverse and our podcast output in 2024.

Thanks to the kindness of our friends at the children’s charity Happy Days, we’ve been able to provide a variety of exciting days out for children and parents across the central region. Families have enjoyed trips to attractions including Think Tank Birmingham, Trentham Monkey Forest, Hatton Adventure World, West Midlands Safari Park, Cotswold Wildlife Park and Twinlakes in Leicestershire. Naturally, the children love these trips, and their parents appreciate the opportunity to catch up with our team members, socialise with their peers and expand their support networks in a relaxed environment. We’re really grateful to our friends at Happy Days for their generosity, as well as contributions received in previous years from Star Trust and LoveBrum, for helping us to fund these valuable events.

Back in May, a team of Adoption Focus staff and adopters took part in the Great Birmingham Run. Runners in both the 10km and half-marathon distances raised more than £3600 for our adoption support services in the process. Following on from this, our fundraising team registered our organisation with Run For Charity, giving us access to hundreds of challenge events in the UK and beyond. This has given our supporters the opportunity to improve their fitness and raise funds for our support services while participating in some exciting and prestigious events.

During National Adoption Week, we joined with other adoption agencies across the country to highlight the positive impact of adoption on adopted people’s lives, as well as the strides made to put children's sense of identity at the heart of the adoption journey. This campaign, and the powerful film at its centre, were a useful reminder to people that adoption has become far more sensitive to the importance of helping adopted children to understand their histories. But we’re not only active during national campaigns like National Adoption Week. We’ve been busier than ever in promoting our service, with recruitment activity across the Midlands and across social media platforms, now including TikTok. We also spent an incredibly busy and enjoyable weekend talking in person to hundreds of enthusiastic potential adopters at The Modern Family show in the summer.

As an organisation, everything we do is dedicated towards improving the lives of children. During 2023 we have placed 71 vulnerable children with 52 loving, well-prepared new families. Adoption will always be the focus of all the work we do, and we look forward to working with many new prospective adopters next year and providing more safe, permanent homes for children who’ve had a difficult start in life.

Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to our growth and continuing success during the last 12 months – our staff, trustees, panel members, volunteers, supporters, our brilliant buddies, colleagues from partner agencies and, most of all, our amazing adopters.

Wishing you a peaceful, merry Christmas and a very happy New Year.