Adoption appeal as new HQ opened

A "DESPERATE" shortage in the number of people coming forward to adopt children was highlighted as the new headquarters of a county adoption service was officially opened.

A "DESPERATE" shortage in the number of people coming forward to adopt children was highlighted as the new headquarters of a county adoption service was officially opened.

The centralisation of the Suffolk Adoption Agency at Thorndon, near Eye, brings together specialist social services staff under one roof.

Senior staff dealing with adoption have up to now been spread throughout the county and the aim of the new move is to make the service more streamlined and efficient.

The new headquarters will maintain a county-wide database of prospective adopters and children - in local authority homes and with foster parents - for whom adoption is sought.

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"There is a desperate shortage of people coming forward willing to adopt," said Fiona Wilmott, adoption service spokeswoman.

Suffolk currently had between 40 and 50 children awaiting adoption, mainly within the five to 15 age group and some with special needs.

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"Every one of these children needs a strong and supportive family," Ms Wilmott said.

The agency is particularly anxious to hear from people able to adopt older children, sibling groups or children with a disability.

Nearly all have experienced moves and uncertainty and their resulting behaviour could be "challenging", Ms Wilmott said.

Prospective adopters could be married, single, in a same sex partnership and from culturally diverse sectors of the community.

In Suffolk it currently takes at least 12 months from the initial application for the adoption process to be completed but staff are working towards a reduction to eight months.

The county council has recently introduced extra "child protection" checks on prospective parents.

The official opening of the new headquarters, called Principals House, was marked yesterday by the planting of a tree by Lady Henniker, a trustee of the Kerrison Trust, which owns the Thorndon property, and a ten-year-old adopted child called Mary.

Suffolk Adoption Agency can be contacted by telephoning 0800 389 9417.

Case studies

Debra's mother is white and her father is African-Caribbean. Her mother is unable to care for her due to drug dependency and Debra has no contact with her, at her own request.

The child, described as intelligent, sociable and likeable, is currently living with an aunt but the Suffolk Adoption Agency is trying to find her a permanent home with a new family.

She loves being involved in family gatherings and enjoys trying out new activities.

Adoption service staff say that since being in care Debra has grown from being an anxious child to being outgoing and confident.

Carol and Zelda are sisters who need to stay together.

Carol is a sociable girl of nine who loves individual attention. She has a mild learning disability and special educational needs although she attends a mainstream school and is making good progress.

The child has severe burn scars on her limbs but is learning to look after these herself.

Her sister is a happy, friendly five-year-old who gets on well with other children but needs help in learning the boundaries with adults.

Leon is an appealing and cheeky one-year-old who loves cuddles. He is adventurous and needs alert attention throughout the day.

The toddler experienced drug withdrawal as a result of his birth mother's medication for serious mental illness.

With physiotherapy he has made excellent progress and his exercises are now part of his play.

Described as a smiling and laughing boy, he eats well but is allergic to cow's milk.

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