National Adoption Week 2022
This year, National Adoption Week (17-23 October) focuses on the theme of identity.
‘You Can Adopt’, in partnership with Coram Adoption and other agencies, explore adopted people’s memories and relationships from before, during, and after they were adopted, and how these make them who they are today.
Adoption is not a line in the sand where adopted people close the door on all connections to their life from before they were adopted. For the person who is adopted, it is one life – and issues around identity and belonging can surface. The campaign will showcase modern adoption and how important it can be for adopted people to be able to feel connected to their past – often through physical keepsakes such as letters, photographs, or childhood toys.
To mark National Adoption Week, findings from a new public survey have been published revealing the special role that ‘memory boxes’ and other sentimental items play in forming our
identities and reminding us of the past:
- Six out of 10 Brits keep a ‘memory box’ or equivalent – with one in four people keeping these items because they help them understand who they are and where they came from, while one in three said it is so that they have something physical about their life to hand down to relatives.
- Eight in 10 of the public say their identity is shaped through connections made throughout their life, and more than three quarters say it is shaped by an understanding of their family history.
Adopted people are no different, and many factors play a role in influencing who they are today – including special memories with foster carers, contact with birth parents, knowledge of their family history, and the relationships formed with their adoptive families.
Identity, especially for adopted people, is likely to be a life-long journey that evolves as new information, experiences, and relationships develop. While not all adopted people will have mementos from their early life, modern adoption encourages access to a range of quality information. Many adopters today make it a priority to help their children to understand and develop their identity.
Tiegen and her birth dad Jay regained contact two years ago, when she was 18. Relationships and memories help us all to understand our sense of self and who we are. For many adopted people, like Tiegan, making contact with birth parents can be an important part of their life.
"Most children, even if they're adopted at the age of six months or one year old, they still have a life of memories."
Emma reconnected with her birth family at the age of 17 after deciding that she wanted to know more about her Caribbean heritage. Having realised the impact of discovering more about her identity, she’s helping her sister's two adopted boys from Ethiopia do the same.
"It was exciting because this was me learning about my Jamaican and Bajan heritage and my culture, learning about the food and the music and all those types of things, and meeting extended family."
John and Nikita's story
John and Nikita’s adoptive parents wanted to help keep their story alive by showing them letters from their birth parents. While not all adopted people will have memories from their early life, modern adoption encourages adopted people to access a range of information to help them understand their identity.
"Our mum and dad have always kept our adoption and our life story a massive part of our life."
To learn more about National Adoption Week, visit the You Can Adopt website.