On Monday 6 June, Family Action’s adoption support agency, PAC-UK, accompanied six birth parents - who have accessed support from PAC-UK - to attend a roundtable hosted by the House of Lords Children and Families Act Committee.
The group were invited to share their personal experiences of adoption and travelled down to London from the North early on Monday morning, which allowed enough time for a brief (nerve calming) sightseeing tour through central London as they made their way to Parliament.
Everyone in the group, though understandably anxious, were extremely supportive of each other throughout the preparation work facilitated by PAC-UK:
“Some people express having their children removed as a life trauma, I call it a life sentence. Every day for over 16 years I still cannot fill this empty void."
"This experience has changed me as a person, my mental health is like a rollercoaster with no end in sight. This experience does not only affect me it affects my whole family.”
“The speed of the process overwhelmed me, I felt my daughter was going to be adopted no matter what. I searched high and low for support and came across PAC-UK, who from the start have been a lifeline for me.”
They were ready to share their lived experience, they wanted their voices to be heard and we knew they would do a great job.
Undeterred from the tube strike, which meant some members of the Select Committee joined virtually, the group answered a series of questions. They discussed the:
- (lack of) support for birth parents generally, particularly in the immediate aftermath of an adoption order being granted
- inadequate signposting to services (such as PAC-UK) who may be able to offer specialist support
- highly inconsistent experiences of the legal advice they had received
- negative experiences of post adoption contact and the current system not working for them
- lack of consideration/support for their mental health after losing their child/ren to adoption
Though this meeting was not recorded for Parliament.TV, a summary is expected to be included within a wider report that will be submitted to the government in November 2022.
When thanking the group, the Select Committee described the meeting as “a profoundly moving experience and very helpful” which really meant a lot to the group, who felt “listened to and not judged” throughout:
“I was nervous but loved every minute of getting our voices heard regarding the (adoption) process (for us as birth parents).”
“I am so glad I came and used my voice – I felt listened to and not judged – I just hope change comes from this in the future.”
“Thank you PAC-UK for all of your support, it was a pleasure to be part of the group, but we couldn’t have done it without you!”
We are so proud of the birth parents who went to speak with the House of Lords Children and Families Act Committee. Their voice is seldom heard and it is fantastic that they were able to speak so openly and emotionally with the committee. We hope this will empower birth families and be the start of their voices being heard more.
PAC-UK | June 2022
PAC-UK provides specialist support to all parties affected by adoption and permanency, for more information on our services for birth parents and relatives please visit www.pac-uk.org/birth-parents