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Adoptee views on CVAA’s ‘My People’ vision

In April CVAA published its vision for transforming support for adopted young people in maintaining their early relationships. We know from research and lived experience that having this support in place is crucial as it impacts how adoptees formulate their whole sense of identity across their childhood and later lives. We laid out a plan for ‘My People’, a new network and hub, with the single purpose of better preserving the threads of connection between adopted children, their birth families and other key people in their lives.

We couldn’t have done this without listening at length to adopted young people, hearing about their experiences and incorporating their ideas. In this blog we have summarised their main messages to us – messages which the whole adoption sector needs to take note of, if we are to find truly adoptee-centred improvements to the adoption system in the UK.

More information for adopted young people is desperately needed

Adopted young people felt that an online hub of information about supporting children’s lifelong relationships was well overdue. All of those we consulted with had experiences of searching for help online and being disappointed. Tegan told us “If you Google it just comes up with academic articles about why contact is bad, which is so irrelevant and unhelpful to a 14 year old”. Ella said she “couldn’t find anything on what it might be like, or what other people’s experiences have been like”.

Young people felt alone in grappling with these enormous questions. They didn’t always feel comfortable speaking to their adoptive parents, professionals or friends about it. Besides, they struggled to find the language for what they were going through: “I didn’t know how I felt so I wanted to read stories to work out which one I related to”, Tegan explained.

The lack of information left them feeling ill-equipped to deal with the practical challenges which cropped up, such as birth relatives reaching out to them on social media. Ella reflected that if she’d had the right resources and been prepared for this possibility “it would have made things an awful lot easier”.

This dearth of advice online meant that some young people felt compelled to reach out to birth relatives on their own, unsupported and unprepared for what might happen.


Help should be varied, creative, and written by young people for young people

“I’ve read ‘it’s normal to be confused about your identity’ like 50,000 times and I didn’t know what it meant until I had my own ideas, not because I read that.”

The above words from Tegan show why we need to completely rethink the way that young people are supported, and find more imaginative online spaces for adoptees where they can explore and seek help from a breadth of content. Stories, poems, and art were discussed as ways to relate with adoptees trying to find ways to express themselves.

Everyone agreed on the importance of there being a dedicated website for young people, far away from advice for other people who might need it such as birth parents, as stumbling across this information could counterproductively result in further questions and angst for adoptees.

And once there is a safe space online which truly feels supportive to young people, it needs to link up as seamlessly as possible with the organisations and professionals who can take the next step in helping them. “It takes a long time to get over the hurdle of who to speak to”, Ella summarised. There were worries about “sounding stupid” or “going round in circles”, therefore any new online hub needs to help break down the barriers to getting further practical or therapeutic help.

You can read about our vision for ‘My People’, which was shaped in consultation with adoptees and adoption experts, here.

Thank you to Scottish Adoption ambassadors for all their help. More information on their brilliant Ambassador Programme and adoptee community @teentalkadoption is available here.

My People aligns directly with the new CVAA Strategy 2024 – 2027 ‘Shaping the future of adoption services’. CVAA is now actively pursuing funding to develop and launch My People.