Lime interview - Community & Support
Interview with Christine Allen - Mosiac
EDITOR - Vernia Mengot
Ahead of National Adoption Week this month, Mosaic Adoption and Permanence Service Team Manager; Christine Allen shares information about adoption services, campaigns and resources.
How many in the team and are you all from varying backgrounds?
We have quite a small team in Mosaic and what works well is that we are all from different backgrounds. Each member of the team seems to bring a different skill and we are very close knit.
The organisation was formerly known as Adoption Black Families - why the name change and what's different?
We have changed our name to reflect the diverse ethnic groups that we work with. We worked with our adoptive families to come up with the name change. What’s important is that we are constantly updating.
Have any new initiatives been introduced to encourage black and dual heritage families to adopt?
We asked the University of Central Lancashire to conduct an evaluation of how effective the service is at developing and supporting families from BME backgrounds. We actively target BME communities and receive a high number of enquiries about adoption. We ensure our recruitment process re ethnically and culturally sensitive. This makes a significant difference in stimulating interest. We are always looking to innovate and recently conducted a survey with our adopters to explore new recruitment methods and ideas. In addition we are looking at targeting LGBT adopters and working with New Family Social and are a key sponsor of LGBT adoption week. The service has high BME adoption rates, recruiting more than four times the number of four times the of BME adopters of another similar service.
Who would consider adoption?
We believe children need families who can grow up feeling good about themselves, with the knowledge of their own culture, language and religion. Our main criteria is that children are placed with stable, loving families who meet their individual needs. These carers can come fro ma variety of backgrounds and can be single, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner. We welcome gay and lesbian adopters whether single or looking to adopt jointly.
Why do children need adopting?
There are a variety of reasons children need adopting. These can vary from neglect to death of their own parents.
How old are the children being placed for adoption with Mosaic?
The children can be babies or aged up to seven or eight years. Many sibling groups also need adoptive homes.
What can prospective adopters expect from your service?
At Mosaic, adopters can expect extensive support as long as they need it. This includes having a dedicated social worker, excellent on going training and support from the whole team as well as other adopters. At Mosaic we have an experienced and responsive team and we provide support groups and social events. You will get a thorough assessment, preparation and carefully matching to suit the needs of the family. The team at Mosaic are both passionate and dedicated and reflect the ethnic diversity of the families we work with.
Prospective adopters are often put off by the adoption process. What is your approach to this?
All of our prospective adopters have a dedicated social worker who will take them through the process. The process is thorough to ensure that the child and adopter are carefully matched. Because of this, placements are more likely to be a success. The assessment process can take up to six months and we are well within national guidelines. We recognise for anyone that is considering adoption that it is a lifelong commitment to that child. We explain the intrusiveness of the process and the reason why it may seem long. We also recognise they need time to recover as the legislations are demanding. We focus on the parent(s) we are accessing and we are child centred. We have great success with families and over a five year period we have only had one adoption breakdown.
How supportive are you as a team not only to prospective adopters but to each other? How important is this support?
The support we provide is excellent and adopters are supported throughout the process and also once they are caring for their new family. We will visit adopters regularly, advocate for them, make sure they are receiving all of the services they should be receiving (from other organisations as well as ourselves) provide financial support, training, keep them in touch with other adopters and invite them to regular social events.
Our close knit team regularly meet to discuss individual cases and develop our services further to meet the needs of the adopters. As well as day to day support from each other, Action for Children provides extensive support to all employees through regular team events and impartial counselling services if needed.
Has the number of people adopting become greater in recent years?
I think what we do always notice is that when there is emphasis on adoption sometimes it’s because of local authorities saying there are too many children in the care system. Then we would get an increase.
What should people look for in adoption agencies?
I think most importantly is sensitivity. What you do want to look for in an agency is one that has time for you and makes time for you. We are honest and I am very lucky for the social workers in my team.
How does it feel to be part of the adoption process from start to finish where you have worked with the family and successfully placed a child?
It is tremendously rewarding to work with a family through the entire adoption process and see how adoption can transform the child’s life and that of the entire family.
What is your success rate?
It’s difficult to say. We recognise people adopt for different reasons. I think we are always clear about motivation and the role of adoption.
What measures will you take to raise awareness during National Adoption Week this month?
We are part of the South London consortium. On the 6th November we will be at Lambeth Town Hall. We will also be holding a session on 17th from 12pm till 2pm.
What can people do as a community to raise awareness about adoption?
I think there needs to be openness about it. I think it’s about raising awareness in different communities. I think it’s a shame that it’s just a week focusing on raising awareness for adoption.
Address: Action for Children, 12 Hackford Walk, Hackford Road, Stockwell, London, SW9 0QT
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