Adoption agencies are being inundated with a “surprisingly high” volume of inquiries from prospective parents, despite concerns about their income and possible redundancies due to the coronavirus pandemic, a charity boss has said.
Dr Sue Armstrong Brown, chief executive of Adoption UK, which provides support for families going through the process, said lockdown has generated an unexpected boost in the number of people keen to take on a child, because it has given them time to “think about what they really want in life”.
She said serious interest from adults wanting to adopt has been “buoyant”, defying expectations that uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 would see inquiries tail off.
Dr Armstrong Brown told the PA news agency: “We are observing that inquiry levels from prospective adopters looking to start the process have remained quite buoyant, which is very encouraging and not necessarily what was expected.
“The interpretation of that is this lockdown has given people some breathing space to assess their lives and consider what they want to do – a bit of thinking time.”
Figures on how the pandemic has affected adoption rates across the UK are expected later in the year, although anecdotal evidence has suggested that hundreds of cases will have stalled during the three months of lockdown.
Around 3,000 children are adopted in England every year, but access to courts and a steep reduction in meetings due to social distancing rules has meant the vast majority of adoption cases since the middle of March have yet to complete.
Millions of people have been placed on furlough, while others have been made redundant, leading to widespread uncertainty about the future.
But while that has dissuaded some prospective adopters, the lockdown period has given others cause to consider welcoming an adopted child into their family, Dr Armstrong Brown said.
She said: “It is extremely unhealthy for children caught up in delays and uncertainty, especially if they have gone through prior trauma.
“That would have been very confusing and difficult to understand.
“Right now we are right up against it and it’s not always obvious what the consequences of the pandemic will be.
“I suspect we are going to see more people in trouble, because of job losses.
“But also I think more people will be coming forward to adopt because they have had the time to think about what they really want in life and decided adopting is interesting to them.
“Very hopefully we won’t see too dreadful a hit on the pipeline of prospective adopters.
“I’m surprised by it (the level of interest in adoption), but I’m also very encouraged.
“It’s a fantastic sign of people’s optimism and resilience that they are – in such uncertain times – being able to think about taking such a major step.”
– For more information on adoption visit adoptionuk.org