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NORFOLK County Council is calling on potential adopters to come forward to offer a permanent home to some of the county’s most vulnerable children.

As National Adoption Week begins on Monday 31 October Norfolk County Council is urging people to come forward to offer a home to those waiting to be adopted – groups of siblings, older children and children with additional needs, such as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) or Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

A number of children waiting to be adopted have either FASD or NAS, caused by alcohol or drug misuse during pregnancy. There is shortage of adopters prepared to offer a home to these children, both in Norfolk and out of county because both conditions cause uncertainty about the long-term development of the child.

Children with FASD can experience learning difficulties, autistic traits and problems with language and memory. Children with NAS will have had to experience withdrawal from a drug in infancy, may have been born at a low weight and could also have learning difficulties.

In Norfolk there are currently 34 children waiting to be adopted – 18 single children and seven pairs of siblings – Norfolk County Council wants to ensure these brothers and sisters can stay together.

Peter Ronan, Adoption, Fostering and Residential Care Operations Manager for Norfolk County Council, said: “The problem in Norfolk is not that we don’t have enough adopters but that we don’t have enough of the right adopters to look after the children that are waiting for a home. There is a particular shortage of adopters for children with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and neonatal abstinence syndrome - we are struggling to find families for these children both in Norfolk and outside the county.

“We know that there are people out there who can offer these children the love and security they need and we can and will offer them training and support. These children need someone who can give them encouragement, stability and love. It is a tremendous commitment but one with fantastic rewards, as an adoptive parent watches their child grow and develop.”

Norfolk County Council’s Adoption Agency has been judged outstanding by Ofsted and the county has a very low adoption breakdown rate, compared to the national average.

This is because the County Council works hard to match children with the best possible adopters, currently aiming for the process to take about 10 months between application and placement.

Peter added: “It is right that this is a thorough process and that we make sure that we are making the best possible match for the child, to ensure their stability for the future.

“Our current target from enquiry to placement is 10 months. This means that adopters have a good amount of time to carefully consider if this is the right thing for them and their wider family and to prepare for what is a very big change in their lives. Equally it is important that social workers feel confident that those wanting to adopt are absolutely committed and have the skills necessary to look after children that have often had a very difficult start in life. The commitment of our social workers to ensure that this process is as careful as possible is why we have such a low adoption breakdown rate in Norfolk and why our agency has been judged so highly by Ofsted.”

During National Adoption Week, Norfolk County Council is also looking for more foster carers to come forward to offer security to children in care, whether in a long-term or short-term placement.

Alison Thomas, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We know that Norfolk is a caring place and I am sure that there are people in communities all over the county who want to ensure that these children are being well looked after and supported, just as we do as a County Council.

“I would urge these people to come forward, either to offer a permanent or temporary home to these children and young people. Making a difference to a child or children that have often missed out on the love and support they cherish, is clearly challenging but it also brings with it remarkable rewards.

“Adoptive parents need to be willing to work hard to maximise their child’s potential, while at the same time accepting the child for who they are and valuing every step of their progress – however great or small.”

“I have served on an adoption panel for the last two years so see first hand what a difference adoption makes and the very many different people that come forward as adopters. We really are looking for anyone that can offer the time and commitment to these children that they have missed out on – good parents and carers come from all walks of life and all backgrounds.”

Anyone interested in adopting or fostering a child should call Norfolk County Council on 0344 800 8020 or email