Thursday, 29 July 2010

How we made our adoption film

As we launch our new adoption film, BAAF’s PR and; Media Manager, explains how the concept for the video was developed.

If a picture can tell a thousands words, then video can tell even more. With an issue like adoption, that carries so many emotions, it is the perfect vehicle. Yet making a film about adoption isn’t necessarily new or groundbreaking. Therefore we asked ourselves how we could bring a new lease of life to the format, to ensure we captured people’s imaginations.

While many films of this type use a string of adoption experts in ‘talking heads’ format, we though it could be more powerful if we simply had the children talking. After all, adoption is a service for them. We were lucky enough to know a family who had adopted three children, all of whom have flourished. The children represented a mix of those who traditionally wait longest – sibling groups, older children and boys. Through their stories we could show people that adoption isn’t about new born babies ‘given up’ for adoption, but about children with complex backgrounds and a range of needs.

I also really liked the fact that each of the children, even the two sisters, had such different stories to tell. And their unique personalities really shone through in their interviews. They had the courage to speak honestly about their problems – from jealousy and rivalry, to bickering and fighting. But there was also no doubt that they loved each other very much, and they helped each other through any problems.

When making a film about adoption, you are often faced with the problem of how to illustrate life before the adoption. There may be photos here and there, but they never show the whole picture. So we came up with the idea of using animation. It was the perfect tool as it gave us images where we had none, and was an easy solution to protecting identities.

The feedback we’ve had from our film so far has been really positive, with orders from adoption agencies pouring in. However we hope that it isn’t just professionals who use it. We want it to become a valuable resource for our Adoption Champions, who will be running events in their local communities during National Adoption Week. They can use the video to illustrate the real voices of children who need permanent and loving families. We believe it will have a powerful effect on prospective adopters.

To become an Adoption Champion yourself visit our website.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Adoption family matching through video

Mo O'Reilly, Director Child Placement at BAAF, explains how we are constantly striving to find new ways of family finding for children waiting for adoption.

When we launched the Be My Parent website in May 2007, we were asked by many social workers about our plans to show videos of children being featured for family finding. ‘Do you know that it works?’ they asked. ‘Do you think it will make a difference to children finding families?’ All good questions, which we could not really answer. At the time there was little out there that we could point to, to help us answer them.

We were sure they would help as the 3-4 minute video clip embedded in a written profile of the child really conveyed the ‘essence of the child’. So we decided to raise some funds and do the research ourselves.

In December 2007, we started a video project in BAAF to assess the impact videos had on finding families for a cohort of children. We had some money donated to us from the Dorus Trust, BBC Children in Need and Marsh Insurance which allowed us to offer FREE videos to local authorities for children they were family finding for. In return they agreed to participate in answering our questionnaires and telephone interviews.

We worked with two brilliant film companies who made excellent videos of the children. Fifty videos and 66 children later, we have finished the project and written up our findings. Our report ‘Seeing the Difference?’ is published at the end of July and will be distributed free of charge to BAAF member local authorities.

So what did we find? Well...
• 96% of social workers saw the film clip as a valuable tool and would use them in future to feature children.
• Children featured in the research received more enquiries than other children featured online.
• 60% of social workers agreed that the videos played an important part in attracting enquiries.
• 83% of families found the videos ‘very helpful’.
• Social workers used the video in very creative ways to find families for children.
• Children, most of whom lose touch with much of their personal history when they come into care, get to keep a video of a time in their life that they can look back on for years to come.

If I had a magic wand then every child in need of a family would have a good quality video as part of their family finding effort...automatically. But in these times of financial stricture, that seems unlikely...sadly.

To find out more about how we use videos in family finding, visit the website.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Are you adopted and trying to find a member of your family?

Are you trying to find a member of your family? Has your search gone cold? Or do you just not know where to begin? You may be a birth parent, adopted person, a separated sibling, estranged parent or someone who has grown up in care - hoping to be reunited with lost relatives.

From the makers of the hit family history series Who Do You Think You Are? a new documentary programme called Long Lost Family with Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall will aim to reunite long lost families.

If you are over the age of 18, have experienced family separation and now feel ready to seek a reunion then please get in touch.

Go to and follow the link to the application form.

Alternatively, please write to Find My Family, Wall to Wall Television, 8-9 Spring Place, London, NW5 3ER for an application form.

** This is not a BAAF project **

Friday, 16 July 2010

Response to Facebook questions on featuring children online

Following questions on Facebook, here is some further information on why and how we profile children waiting for adoption online, from our Director of Child Placement.

Every year in the UK there are about 70,000 children who are in public care. About 5000 of these children can never return home safely and new permanent families are sought to look after them. In an ideal world we would have many families waiting to embrace these children and be willing to make a life long commitment to them. Thankfully each year, thousands of families do make this commitment but each year we fall short of the number we need. In an effort to attract more and new families to adoption or permanent fostering, we give information about children waiting for families. We do not ‘advertise’ them.
There is evidence from research that seeing images of the child increases the likelihood of response. How can we ask families to consider parenting children without the benefit of seeing the children and giving ‘chemistry’ a chance to work? For many children the level of response is low and agencies have to work very hard to find families for children, most of whom have already had a difficult start in life through no fault of their own.
Often agencies turn to Be My Parent after exhausting more local possibilities of finding families.
No child is featured on the BeMyParent site without consent of the Court or their Local Authority who are acting in loco parentis. Every subscriber to the site goes through a registration process and a credit card check before they can access the children’s profiles to confirm that they are UK resident and their details match up. On the site we have three levels of security and one of these levels only allows access to children’s profiles to people who have been successfully Police checked. However the best guarantee of security for the child is to ensure that no identifying information about the child, such as family name or current location, is included in profiles that otherwise try to give a balanced view of the child.

I appreciate that relatives of children featured might find this difficult. However we need to do what is in the best interest of the child, and finding them a permanent new family who will give them a chance to grow into healthy independent adults, is definitely in their best interest.

Adoption and permanent fostering is fantastically successful in turning children’s lives around. We remain committed to doing everything we can to promote this.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Creating sustainable futures for children

If we care about children we must look at issues that affect them now and in the future. We believe that climate change is a reality and the ones most affected are children.

The services we provide are essential, but we recognise they are also energy intensive. From the paper we use to print leaflets, books and newspapers, to the water used in our air conditioning systems - all of it has an impact on our environment.

To address these concerns a group of volunteers at BAAF set up the Sustainability Action Team. The team look at every function of BAAF’s operation, and see if there are ways to make the organisation more sustainable. So far a waste recycling system has been introduced; we have installed energy saving devices on electrical equipment; we have introduced a Cycle to Work scheme; and we have done an audit of our paper and printing services to ensure that we are using either recycled paper, or paper from sustainable forests.
Our latest challenge in our Head Office and Southern Region office, is to sign up to the 10:10 campaign. The campaign aims to get people to reduce their carbon footprint by 10% within the next year. We will be doing this across three key areas: fuel usage; vehicle usage; and flights. We are exploring the possibility of rolling the initiative out across our regional offices later in the year.

Climate change is an issue that affects all of us, but particularly children. If you want to see what you can do as an individual to tackle climate change why not sign up to the 10:10 as well.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Private fostering notifications rise again

The latest Government statistics show that last year there was a 9% increase in the number of people notifying their local authority if they are privately fostering a child. This means that since we started our private fostering campaign there has been nearly a 25% increase in notifications, which is really encouraging.

However we estimate there are many more children living in private fostering arrangements that the council knows nothing about. Some of these children may be at risk.

Private fostering describes an arrangement lasting 28 days or more where somebody other than a grandparent, aunt or uncle or other close relative cares for somebody else’s child. By law the local authority must be informed of such arrangements.

Most privately fostered children will be well cared for, but some may be highly vulnerable. Help us to keep children safe by notifying your council if you know of a private fostering arrangement in your local community. For more information visit our private fostering website.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Apprenticeship offered for care experienced young person

A few months ago BAAF was approached by TACT (The Adolescent And Child Trust - an independent fostering and adoption agency) to see if we would be interested in offering an apprenticeship to a young person who is or was in care. For a young person, who might have missed out on key parts of their education as a result of being in care, and who consequently is finding it even harder to get a job than the rest of the 16-18 year old population, it provides key opportunities to gain work experience.

We are really keen to participate and are looking for a young person, aged 16-18, who has had at least a year’s experience of being in care, and who would like to get some experience of working within our charity. They could get an NVQ level 2 to boot!

The job is for a year and involves working to support the membership, fundraising, conference and press teams. The job will start this August and be based at our London office. There will be support with training and a coordinator from TACT will visit and support the apprentice, making sure that they are happy with the job and giving practical support when needed. And of course, we will be paying the apprentice a weekly wage as well.

We are excited about this opportunity and hope it is a great success, in which case we can offer a chance like this every year to a young person from care who wants to get on the employment ladder and start to build their CV!

I hope someone out there who reads this can help us find the right young person from the care system for this job. If you can, please get them to contact Martina-Jean Jacques at TACT.

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