Today, Monday 17 October, marks the launch of National Adoption Week 2022, which this year focuses on the theme of identity.
The Adopt East Alliance, which includes Thurrock Council, supports this year's 'You Can Adopt' campaign. In the campaign, adopted people reflect on their relationships from before, during, and after they were adopted, connections to their heritage, and how this helped them develop a sense of their identity as they grew up.
A powerful short film has been released featuring four adopted people and those closest to them, exploring their own 'memory boxes' and why it's so important for them to feel connected to their past. You can watch the film online at You Can Adopt: National Adoption Week.
Cllr Barry Johnson, Cabinet Member for Children and Education, said: "For adopted people, having an understanding of and connections to their life before adoption can be crucial to their lifelong sense of identity and emotional wellbeing. This is often through letters, photographs, and childhood toys from birth families and foster carers, and sometimes through meeting up.
"While not all adopted people will have memories from their early life, or the opportunity to have contact with people from their life before they were adopted, modern adoption encourages access to a range of quality information which helps young people to understand and develop their identity.
"I recommend you taking the time to watch the short film that You Can Adopt have released, it brings to life the connections that adopted people make and how their sense of identity has been formed through various connections in their lives – including birth families, foster carers, friends and adoptive parents."
Tiegan, who speaks with her birth father about her memory box in the film, said: "Finding out about my birth father when I was 18 was a really happy moment: knowing each other, even if it didn't come to anything, helped me understand where I stood in the world. I also found out my Dad kept a sonogram from my birth mother's pregnancy, which I now have and is so special to me. As an adopted person, you don't expect to have baby photos, let alone a sonogram – I couldn’t believe it. To know he kept that is amazing, it shows my life is an ongoing journey.
"I think it's important to be told you're adopted from the very beginning – my mums knew they weren't just adopting me, they were adopting my whole history and family as well. There are still struggles – you'll never get every piece of information. But there were 4 years of my life before I was adopted, and that's still part of my story."
Thurrock Adoption Team hold virtual open events every other month. For more information, or if you are interested in adopting and would like to speak to the team, phone 0800 652 1271, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to thurrock.gov.uk/adoption