This evening I went along to the Home for Good reception:
Claire and Alan had wondered about adoption before marriage. Seven years ago made enquiries, five years ago 14 month old joined their family. Having great fun with her, learning lots, especially around her additional needs. Also involved in the Home for Good initiative from when that began. Started fostering in the last two years in the Milton Keynes locality.
6000 children in the UK waiting for adoption. Part of the issue is the spread of children and how that varies across Local Authorities.
A conversation with Evangelical Alliance, Care for the Family and CCPAS which created Home for Good looking at how individuals and churches can get involved with adoption and fostering. At the heart is a desire to see how we respond to the most vulnerable in society, caring for those in our care system.
One of the key stories is how this has been picked up in Southampton, where groups of churches responded to the needs of the Local Authority due to the budget cuts. From the Children Service provision there was a real need for 80 families to be involved in foster care. The churches made a commitment to find 40 families for Southampton City Council, using Psalm 68: God finds homes for the lonely. Within 6 months they had signed up 46 families, now 63 families. Now replicating in Reading, Suffolk and other places.
Faith Literacy: CCPAS working on how to help social workers to have a better understanding of the faith community and how they can connect with them and vice versa.
Joint Campaigns: very much Evangelical Alliances input and we have great resources from that.
Adoption Sunday: Krish has worked with BAF, and is one of their Media Champions, and they run the National Adoption Week, linked to this in 2013 we had over 200 churches involved in Adoption Sunday.
Information Events: especially at different conferences and gatherings, people like Spring Harvest have been very supportive. Over the last two years, across a whole range of supporters, connected with over 25,000 people encouraging people to get involved.
Keswick ran the session following the main meeting in the Big Tent so in effect it was anyone who isn’t interested in helping vulnerable children can leave now! Always a way to attract listeners. When you adopt or foster in the Charter’s church you get two weeks of meals in the same way as when you have a baby. It is engaging more people across the church in the movement.
Have a number of Home for Good Champions who share their experience with others to help inspire people around adoption and fostering. Barbara, from Scotland, has two adoptive children, Volunteer Regional Support Co-ordinator for Scotland, working for Care for the Family who co-ordinate the support of adopting and fostering parents. In Scotland much of the networking is done via Facebook and Skype; recently spoke to 300 Church of Scotland Ministers about the campaigns. Nobody had ever brought the families before.
We were introduced to someone who was born to an abused mother, by a church elder. They were privately adopted by a church family who adopted them. Next they were adopted by a Christian family who now wouldn’t be allowed to adopt. That’s why the rules and checks are there. Really love and appreciate their adopted mum, but especially as they said their birth mum loved them and didn’t want to give them up which gave them so much help and confidence in their placing in God’s family.
It comes down to how we provide a home for the children, bringing hope for each child, and we can find ourselves as part of the story. It is a real privilege to share that journey with any and every child. It is good for the church in how we serve and how we grow, for the reputation of the church, the Southampton example. It is good for the nation – the numbers of children in care that we want to see change.
Tim & Melissa adopted two sibling children, four years ago. Currently started fostering a few months ago. Started an adopted families support group a few years ago which has grown and been a real help in return. Christmas 2013 had 30 children including both birth, adoptive and fostering children. Based in Ipswich and now linking with other churches in Ipswich and Suffolk. The Suffolk Council has been positive about faith adopters, and are connecting with more potential adopters, sponsoring a Home for Good event to use publicity through the faith community.
Began as a conversation, now in a preparatory phase to build Home for Good as an organisation in its own good as coming out of the Evangelical Alliance. Tearfund was birthed in a similar way so there is a proven track record of this. Looking to look at how they could work with some approved agencies – PACT based in Reading, and Adoption Matters North West.
In Southwark and Lambeth the conversation led to the Councils funding an outreach role to connect between Councils and Churches which may provide a model for other local authorities to follow.