Five Minute Feature: Why adoption rates in Gloucestershire are taking off
The number of children adopted in Gloucestershire last year soared by a staggering 79 per cent per cent and is still rising. We look at why adoption rates in the county have rocketed and the impact it is having.
SIGNING up to adopt a child in Gloucestershire has never been simpler.
That's according to county council bosses who say they have slashed the red tape and bolstered the support available to adoptive parents in a bid to make the adoption process as smooth as possible.
Improvements include shorter court timescales for care proceedings and additional social workers being recruited to help assess potential parents.
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It now takes just six months to be approved as adopters and as little as three months for second-time adopters or foster carers.
The results have been dramatic.
In the business year 2011/2012, there were 14 adoptions in the county. That figure rose to 25 last year and so far this year since April there have already been 24 adoptions with many more under way. The council hopes to smash the 40 barrier by the end of March.
For Kathy Mason, from Winchcombe, becoming an adoptive parent was a life-changing experience. After becoming a foster mum to seven-month-old baby India, who has Down's Syndrome, she soon chose to adopt her.
Now India is a bubbly six-year-old who is thriving at Winchcombe Abbey Primary School. "Becoming an adoptive parent is something I hadn't thought much about until it actually happened," said Kathy, 51.
"I had already had two children of my own who are now grown up. I thought I would be too old to adopt and wouldn't fit the criteria. I was single, not particularly wealthy and the wrong side of 50.
"But I signed up as a foster carer and from there the opportunity arose to adopt India. It has been a wonderful experience and I have no regrets at all. It has changed my life but in the best way possible. India is full of beans and doing really well.
"I would certainly recommend adoption to anyone who has room in their lives to make it work. You don't have to be wealthy, you just need the love and the time to be able to put the child first."
Kathy also said she was supported "100 per cent of the way" by social workers from the county council. The authority wants to hear from anyone keen to be considered as an adoptive parent. That includes unmarried couples, single people, lesbian and gay couples and people living in rented accommodation.
Find out more at www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/adoption or call 01452 427753.