Wednesday, 27 June 2012

First ever National Adoption Week Awards announced!

In 2011 we launched our first ever National Adoption Week Film Competition. The idea behind the competition was to give people with experience of adoption a new forum with which to communicate their passion. Film can be incredibly powerful, and with the rise of social networking sites, such as YouTube, it's become even easier to share with others. It is the perfect medium for inspiring others.

This year, to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the campaign, we are launching the National Adoption Week Awards! The categories for the 2012 awards will be as follows:

• Adoption Film of the Year
• Adoption Champion of the Year
• Supporter of the Year
• Adoption Social Worker of the Year
• Adoption Service of the Year

For further info about the Adoption Film category, continue reading below. To find out more about the other strands, head on over to the National Adoption Week website.

As part of this year's National Adoption Week Awards we are launching a short film competition with the chance to attend an awards ceremony in London, and of course raise awareness of adoption. You don't have to be a professional film maker, or even have professional equipment. Some great films have even been made on mobile phones. So why not give it a go by making a short film about what adoption means to you?

We've deliberately left the theme wide to allow you to interpret it in the way that means most to you. As National Adoption Week is all about encouraging other people to adopt, the judges will be looking for films that are creative and inspiring to anyone thinking about adoption.

How to enter
1. Make a video about what adoption means to you
2. Upload your video to YouTube and tag it NAW2012
3. Register your details via our website and send us the YouTube link

Here's a short video that explains the process a bit more:

To watch the winning entries from 2011’s film competition, please head here:

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Trekking the Inca Trail to raise funds for adoption & fostering

Last month, BAAF Chair Anthony Douglas trekked the Inca Trail in Peru to help raise funds for adoption and fostering. Here, he talks us through the amazing achievement and encourages others to think about undertaking a challenge of their own.

When I decided to trek the Inca Trail for BAAF, it was a long way ahead (9 months) and a long way away (6,200 miles). Although my training did not conform to the plan I was scrupulously sent, I realised from speaking to some friends and colleagues who’d been there and done it that prior training might make all the difference between completion in style or the potential humiliation of having to turn back or, even worse, to be carried down the mountain by a team of fleet-footed porters. So I spent two weekends climbing in the Brecon Beacons, one of them in a minus 10 degree blizzard in April! The effort paid off. Other trekkers prepared by climbing up and down stairs at home for hours on end.

Starting out in the middle of the night from Heathrow, I wondered what I had let myself in for. Some trekker’s kitbags were straight out of a Mountain Warehouse catalogue: two pairs of everything and exquisitely squashed down rather than packed like a binbag. But what was instantly reassuring was that all 55 of us were there to do whatever it took for our charities, and to justify the faith and optimism placed in us by our sponsors. The charities ranged from unique and local, particularly hospices, to unique and national like BAAF. I wore my BAAF orange T shirt with pride at strategic moments during the trek, including one night in a dimly-lit tent when I gave an after-dinner speech about what BAAF does for vulnerable children in the UK. It was just as much a privilege to do that high up in the Andes as it is in the Westminster village. And both matter to BAAF, as they increase the number of people we reach, who in turn can talk to others about what we do, in a network of influence.

The 4 day trek was preceded by 3 days of vital acclimatisation. Being alcohol-free from the moment we stepped off the plane at 9,500 feet in Cusco until we reached Macchu Pichu was also good advice! Crucially, we were taught by our guides, both back in England and on the trek itself in Peru, to find and understand our own pace, so that we could walk at our own pace when the going got tough, as it did from time to time. The trek itself was an ascending crescendo of personal effort for all of us, culminating in seeing Macchu Pichu through the legendary Sun Gate. The scenery throughout the trek was like being in Avatar, with the most amazing shapes, smells, sounds and sights. For the Incas to have built a city like Macchu Pichu in such a wild and inaccessible place was a feat of community engineering. The mysteries of how, why and who remain to this day, which adds to the magic.

I was proud to raise more than £5,000 for BAAF. It will make a small but significant contribution to our work. What drove me on was what I was doing for BAAF.

If you would like to undertake an overseas challenge to help raise money for BAAF, please visit the fundraising section of our website.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Father's Day: a note from an adoptee

Timmy, 26, is a PR professional from London who was adopted at just six weeks old. In the lead up to Father's Day (June 17), he looks back on his relationship with his adoptive father and looks forward to adopting himself in the future.

My parents were always very open with me about my adoption, even from a young age – they welcomed questions, and I had a children's book explaining what adoption is, which was given to me as soon as I learnt to read.

My birth mother was 16 when she fell pregnant with me and knew she wanted to have me adopted. I was placed with a foster family after birth and then six weeks later, I moved in with my adoptive mum and dad. I'm 26 now but I still receive birthday cards from my foster mum!

Growing up, mum and dad were always supportive and I had everything I could possibly want and need from a family. I lived on a farm in the most beautiful countryside with a big family around me – dad would teach me how to ride the tractor. He's very patient, which he needs to be when it comes to me! We get along well and he shows interest in what I do and takes time to understand and ask about what I'm doing. He's a typical Devon farmer, which is where we're different. Dad comes from a long line of traditional families, so in that sense I'm a bit of a black sheep. But even when I came out to dad in my first year of uni, he supported me and accepted me for who I am.

This Father's Day, I'm hoping to go back home and visit my family. In previous years the whole family would gather round for a big lunch. I'm really lucky to have been welcomed into a loving family, and I have the same relationship with my parents as anyone who hasn't been adopted.

Father's Day, Mother's Day, Christmas, birthdays, Easter – they are all huge family celebrations for us. I remember on my 18th birthday – and I'll never forget this – my mum turned to me, upset. When I asked why she was upset, she said, "because your biological mother hasn't been able to see you grow up the way I have." Your parents aren't your DNA – they are the people who support you and help you grow into what you become, which is why I'm so fortunate to have my mum and dad.

When it comes to having my own family, as a gay man, adoption is absolutely a route that I would explore – but the time has to be right. You have to be emotionally resilient – my adoption was quite straight-forward, but I can imagine it would be really tough in different circumstances.

For more info and advice about adoption, visit the British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF)’s website:

To watch videos from adoptive fathers, head over to the BAAF YouTube channel.

Monday, 11 June 2012

A Modern Family

Last month we launched the first in our series of adoption and fostering videos, made with help from the BBC. Today, we unveil the second - an insight into adoption in Wales - which features the story of Sara, who adopted her daughter Sam as a single mother.

We hope that this short film will illustrate that there are many different routes to a happy family life.

I was in my late thirties and in a long term relationship when I first started thinking about adoption. When the relationship broke down, I applied as a single person as I knew I still wanted to be a parent, even though many people would consider the challenges of raising a child as a single parent would be greater than those faced by a couple. I was assessed and approved as a single adopter and eventually my daughter Sam moved in with me shortly after her fourth birthday. Meeting Sam for the first time was an emotional moment for me as the idea of becoming a parent became real when I realised that this little girl was to become a part of my life forever. Sam had been living with a foster carer for the previous year,so it was a hard time for her dealing with all the changes, but luckily I was able to take eight months off work before she started school, which gave us time to bond as mum and daughter.

Sam is now ten years old and a lot has changed in our lives over the past six years. Soon after I adopted Sam, I met my future husband Terry, a widower with three grown up sons. We came together as a family and when Sam was eight, he adopted her as well. We married last year, with Sam as our bridesmaid on a happy day for all the family. Sam now has three wonderful brothers as well as aunties, uncles cousins and friends who have all embraced the new extended family.

Sam is a wonderful daughter. The love I have for her was difficult to convey in the interview I gave but she has brought so much joy to us and to both our families. She is lively and full of fun, loving and caring.Sam was keen to take part in the project and enjoyed the brief moment of fame as she was filmed in the park as well as the added attention from school friends who were impressed with her being filmed by the BBC! We were lucky to have a warm and sunny day for the filming and we were able to go outdoors and make the most of the good weather.

We hope that the film shows something of how three people can come together from very different past lives to create a new life together... We love watching 'Modern Family' and feel that we have our very own modern family which may not have come about in a traditional way but is all the more appreciated because of that.

For more personal stories and videos about adoption and fostering, please visit our YouTube channel.

Monday, 4 June 2012

The three of us; for the first time, and forever

This week on the blog, we hear from Jane and her husband who adopted baby Freddie two and a half years ago. Here, Jane looks back on the moment two became three and shares her experiences as an adoptive mother.

We had a house full of cards, bags full of hand-me-downs from excited relatives, and a diary clear of any commitments for a month...but as Andy and I stood together, looking down at the 4 and a half month old baby in the moses basket, we genuinely had no idea what was going on.

The night before we had been to a restaurant, had a nice meal and a few glasses of wine, and "celebrated" our last night as a twosome. Eighteen hours later we were at home with baby Freddie and had closed the door on the world. And suddenly it was just us. Just the three of us. For the first time ever, and forever.

We were that very lucky couple. Our son's placement order was granted exactly 12 weeks after he was born. Fifteen minutes later our social worker phoned and said (in the calmest voice I have ever heard); "You have been linked with a baby. He's a littlie. He's three months old."

From that second, our lives changed forever. We had his file that afternoon, three days later we had a visit from his social worker and the family finder. The following day we had the phone call saying that they wanted to proceed with the match. Within a month we had met his (wonderful) foster carers, the medical adviser, and completed our matching report. Within 5 weeks of that first phone call, we were at matching panel. Ten days later, Freddie was home.

Adopting a very young baby is incredible. Every day we count our blessings that we were chosen, and settling him into our lives and routines was a doddle. We got all the "firsts" that so many adoptive families don’t have...words, steps, birthday... Alongside that, however, is the weirdness in baby groups, where other Mums ONLY talk about pregnancy, birth and labour. The strangers who stop your pram in the street to ask you who he looks like, and the neighbours who couldn’t remember whether or not you had been pregnant, but were too polite to mention.

We have the "telling" to come, and we know that there are likely to be issues borne from Freddie's erratic start. But we are so very lucky that we will have known our son for nearly all of his life, and two and a half years on, we can’t remember a time when he wasn’t here.

For more first-hand experiences of adoption, check out the rest of BAAF's blog. If you need info or advice about adoption, head over to the main BAAF website.

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