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  1. ITV Report

Potential adopters urged to 'see the whole child'

Potential adopters are being urged to 'see the whole child' in a National Adoption Service for Wales campaign to find permanent families for children with delayed development, health problems and from large sibling groups.

Credit: PA

Suzanne Griffiths, director of operations for the National Adoption Service has said that, although they now have more adopters waiting to be matched than children available, delays arise because of "adopters not being willing or able to take on specific needs of the children currently on the national adoption register."

Children who are part of a large sibling group of three or more that we are trying to place together are most likely to wait much longer to find suitable adopters.

Other children for whom it is often harder to find suitable adopters have faced neglect or abuse during their early life or before birth that leads professionals to think they may have significant health and social care needs, including physical and developmental difficulties.

That is why we are launching the Wales-wide search for more potential adopters willing to take on these specific children. See The Whole Child (#SeeTheWholeChild) is an honest and open campaign to encourage people considering adoption to come to the process with an open mind.

We need people with space in their lives for a child, love to give and patience - basically the qualities of any good parent. If they can see beyond the issues, beyond the challenges and see the whole child, they can give children who are waiting to be adopted - and themselves - a new start and a chance at a stable family life.

– Suzanne Griffiths, National Adoption Service, director of operations

The National Adoption Service for Wales was launched in November 2014 to bring together local authority adoption services into a structure that includes partnerships with Welsh voluntary adoption agencies and health and education services.

For the year to 31st March 2016, the average time children spent in care prior to placement for adoption was reduced to 15.2 months - having fallen from 16.6 months on the year before.

Of the 110 approved adopters on the Wales Adoption Register, 90% wanted just one child and 34% wanted a child aged under two years.

Adoptive families from across Wales have joined the campaign.

Adopters Helen and Gareth have two children with developmental delay and dyslexia

Credit: Matthew Horwood

Our son's delay is a challenge without a doubt, but it's part of what makes him who he is. I wouldn't change him for the world.

The way I look at it is that I would have loved him and done all I could to help him with these problems if I had given birth to him, and it's no different for me just because he's adopted. Perhaps the shock of having a child with special needs is taken away when you adopt because you have professionals helping you understand what challenges you might face before you agree to the placement.

It's important to be honest with yourself and with the adoption service during the matching process about what you would and would not be willing to take on.

– Helen