PAC-UK delivered a series of free to attend online and in-person events during National Adoption Week 2022, which took place from Monday 17th to Sunday 23rd October. Much like our PAC-UK National Adoption Week 2021 Events, we aimed to amplify the voices of birth parents and adopted people, who shared their real life experiences and messages for change.
This year, with National Adoption Week focusing on the importance of identity and relationships for adopted people - in addition to our three online events - we also included an in-person event for adopted people at our Family Action Head Office in London as part of our programme.
In total, over 600 people affected by adoption and permanency (including professionals) attended our events over the course of the week and over 200 attendees completed feedback forms, which is much appreciated. We have provided a summary of our activity below and have included links to event recordings (which have already been viewed over 1,000 times on our PAC-UK YouTube channel!) and some feedback quotes too.
We would like to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who contributed to our events; co-hosts, presenters, attendees, funders and those who worked hard behind the scenes.
An overview of our week
This year, PAC-UK’s involvement in National Adoption Week started two days early, with our sponsorship of the How To Be Adopted online 'virtual retreat' for adopted people on Saturday 15 October, where online activities included creative workshops, time for connection, yoga and meditation. Our sponsorship included contributions to subsidised places.
On Monday 17 October, we delivered our "The voices and stories of adopted people: Identity and relationships" event, which was a huge success, with over 220 people watching live on the day.
Hosted by Mike Hancock (PAC-UK National Strategic Lead), our fantastic line-up of guest speakers included Lara Leon (Psychotherapist, Researcher and part of the ‘How To Be Adopted’ team), Liz Wilde (Writer and Life Coach), Shania Ives (CEO Adoptee Futures), Tanya Killick and our ‘Filling the Gap’ members (PAC-UK & Adopteens) and Cassian Rawcliffe (University of East Anglia).
Excellent training - the honesty and openness was amazing. I feel privileged to have heard their stories. Just as good as last year's PAC-UK event. Thank you to everyone involved in the session.Attendee
It was so good hearing first-hand experiences from those that were adopted themselves. Everyone that spoke did a fantastic job of letting us all know what could be made better for other children. Well done to them all.Attendee
Also on Monday 17 October, we published our new UEA and PAC-UK research briefing – “Maintaining relationships with birth families after adoption: What are Adopted Adults’ Views?” This study reveals the continuing needs and difficulties faced by adopted adults with regard to birth family contact.
The full briefing, key findings and recommendations for policy and practice can be downloaded in full here. You can watch a presentation by Cassian Rawcliffe from the University of East Anglia (UEA) analysing the results on the above event recording.
On Tuesday 18 October, we held our latest PAC-UK EDI Circle for our staffing team. We were delighted to be joined by Yoni Ejo, who shared her personal and professional journey. Yoni is an adopter, adoptee, social work manager and a course leader in anti-racist adoption.
The NAW EDI Circle really increased my confidence towards talking about trans-racial adoption. The session validated my nervousness around this topic, addressing the reasons why people can have such strong thoughts and feelings about trans-racial adoption. We were able to talk about the context of systemic inequality without any fear of shame, judgement or blame.Attendee
Yoni’s professional and personal expertise crucially shone a light on what needs to change; not only in terms of tackling wider inequality but also in terms of the tools needed to successfully provide for black and brown children who are no longer in the care of their birth parents. Having had the opportunity to think deeply about what trans-racial adoptees and adopters need, I feel more empowered in relation to supporting those I work with and promoting positive change in this area of the adoption world.Attendee
On Wednesday 19 October, we were back online delivering our "The voices and stories of birth families: The importance of connection and relationships" event, which was emotive and empowering, with over 180 people watching live on the day.
Hosted by Angela Frazer-Wicks (Chair of Trustees of Family Rights Group) and Lauren Carr (PAC-UK Practice Manager), our amazing guest speakers included Omolade Adedapo (Policy and Public Affairs Officer, Pause) and birth parents Sammy, Kristy, Danielle, Jill, Andy and Sam.
I loved this event. The parents involved were so brave and open to share their stories with us strangers. The song at the end was beautiful and would also be powerful in adopter training to show the birth family perspective.Attendee
It has taken me a while to think of the right words. I feel very privileged to have been able to hear about the birth parents experiences, it was very emotional, and I will take forward what I have learnt in my day-to-day work. I found every one of the speakers who shared their experiences inspirational, they have taken their own experiences and pain and used these to help others. They were amazing!Attendee
On Thursday 20 October, we delivered our "Adoption roundtable: Perspectives and reflections" event, which was our final online event of the week, with over 160 people watching live on the day.
Hosted by Mike Hancock (PAC-UK National Strategic Lead), this event brought together two adopted people (Josh and J.P), two birth parents (Clarissa and Kristy) and two adoptive parents (Mike and Peggy), to look for common ground and understanding of each other’s perspective and to reflect on some of the big issues in adoption.
This is the first time I have ever attended an event that has captured the "real" lived experiences of each service user group impacted by adoption. It was a rich discussion - each brought their own perspective and were respectful of their individual experiences.Attendee
All contributors were amazing. This is without doubt a standout piece of professional development for me. It has really opened my mind to how relatively small changes, an open mind and will to think a bit creatively, could have a significant impact of those most impacted by adoption.Attendee
On Saturday 22 October, we were thrilled to welcome over 40 adopted people to our Head Office in London for our "Adopted people - in-person meet-up" day. Hosted by Judith Ellis (PAC-UK Practice Manager) and Mike Hancock (PAC-UK National Strategic Lead), the day started with a keynote presentation from Claire Mourizzi (How To Be Adopted) who shared her personal adoption experience (plus top tips for self-care) and was followed by workshops on reconnecting with birth relatives, identity and exploration of self (an art-based activity). Following lunch and final workshops, the day ended with a plenary discussion on messages for change.
This was an outstanding event. The first of its kind and it was an absolute joy and privilege to be part of. Being in a room with 40 adopted people represented across the age spectrum and from diverse backgrounds provided a safe space for many adopted people who attended to realise they were not alone. In many of the conversations I had the privilege to be part of, people were saying that for them it was the first time in their 50 or 60 years they had ever met another adopted person.Attendee
It was a day that brought up many difficult memories and feelings for people and these were handled and supported beautifully by PAC-UK staff. This was such a triumphant event with a fantastic keynote speech from Claire Mourizzi from How to be Adopted and I only hope (as many of the attendees said), that this event is the first of many.Attendee
PAC-UK launch 'BIG CONSULT 2022' surveys
... and shortly after National Adoption Week, PAC-UK launched our two 'BIG CONSULT 2022' surveys for adopted people and birth families!
We want to hear about the experiences and views of adopted people and birth families on a range of adoption issues so that their voices can be heard by the wider adoption sector, policy makers, researchers and by each other. We are aiming to publish the results of this survey in early 2023.