Posted: Mon 29th May 2023

Wales leads the UK in supporting adopted children’s life stories

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Monday, May 29th, 2023

New research by Adoption UK heralds Wales as a beacon for adoptive children’s support services across the UK. According to the charity, the Welsh government’s prioritisation of so-called ‘life story work’ since 2019 has significantly assisted adopted children in understanding their early history.

This practice is pivotal for adoptive children, who often grapple with the trauma experienced before adoption and the loss of identity associated with separation from their birth family. Recognised by adoption experts and psychologists, ‘life story work’ helps shape a healthy sense of identity by allowing adopted children to comprehend their own history and the reasons behind their adoption.

Methods include age-appropriate activities, counselling, and life story books that chronicle a child’s early life in a manner suitable for their understanding. Another useful tool is ‘later life letters,’ intended for children to read when they grow older.

In a survey of adoptive parents across the UK, 72% expressed satisfaction with the quality of life story materials they received, a figure that has remained consistent over the last five years. However, in Wales, the satisfaction rate soared to 86%, marking a 30% increase from five years ago.

The number of families receiving life story materials soon after adoption was also notably higher in Wales, offering adoptive parents a valuable head start in supporting their children.

Ann Bell, Wales Director for Adoption UK, advocates for these life story materials, stating that they, along with maintaining safe birth family links, play a crucial role in creating a clear sense of identity and laying strong foundations for a child’s teenage years and later life.

Bell praised the bold actions of the Welsh government, adding that their investment in life story work has borne fruit and should serve as an example for other governments across the UK.

These findings are part of Adoption UK’s fifth annual Adoption Barometer report, the most comprehensive survey of adoption in the UK, which this year included the responses of nearly 3,000 adoptive families, prospective adopters, and adopted adults.

Suzanne Griffiths, Director of NAS, expressed pride at Wales’ leading role in helping adopted children understand their early lives, while highlighting the need for continuous improvement.

Helen Cruthers, a Psychotherapist in Adoption UK’s Psychology and Therapy Hub (PATH), echoed this sentiment, drawing from her 30 years of experience to highlight the significant impact of life story work.

Lastly, an adoptive parent, Sophia (a pseudonym), shared a personal perspective, underlining the invaluable role that life story books played in fostering open and honest conversations within her family and reinforcing her adopted children’s identities.

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