If you’re a military family considering adoption, SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, can support you through the process to create a loving family. They understand the complex demands, and the many positives, of service family life, no matter what your background. Our health & additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, spoke to the charity’s head of adoption, Jill Farrelly, to find out more…

SSAFA works with families so they can be in the best place to adopt, as Jill explains: “We work with the family to enable them to be stable for as long as possible following their approval and we will support mobile families during the assessment stage.”

The process includes an assessment, a four-day training course and an adoption panel. Once you’ve adopted, SSAFA also offers post-adoption support. Jill adds: “Usually the training would be face-to-face but due to the COVID-19 pandemic we’ve had to offer this online. The adoption panel has moved to virtual panels and we’re pleased with how well this has worked.”

Applications welcome

The agency approves 10-12 prospective adoptive families a year and most of these go on to successfully have children placed with them. They welcome applications from families across the UK and provide advice, information and post-adoption support to those serving overseas too.

The team is made up of five permanent social workers and some sessional social workers, so they can access those of you who are in more remote areas.

They work closely with local authorities and regional adoption agencies, and the Building your family service was given an outstanding rating by Ofsted last year.

Looking ahead

Speaking about the agency’s future plans, Jill says: “We’ve already run a training event, a family fun day and weekends away where adopters can meet. Next year we hope to run two weekend events, one in the north and one in the south. One very positive thing is that the military community has come such a long way with inclusion and diversity.”

SSAFA has seen an increase in same-sex couples wanting to adopt, and in 2018, 40 per cent of their adopters were in same-sex relationships, four times higher than the national average.

FAMILY JOURNEY

Andy Wilson (main photo with his family) was in the army for 23 years. He made the decision to adopt two children through SSAFA…

“You always just assume that you’ll be able to conceive, but that wasn’t the case for me and my partner, Stacey. In 2009, I was diagnosed with a condition that meant that we would never be able to have a family naturally.

“Military families are built on love and resilience – and if anything, moving around makes you more stable as a family unit.”

“We were based in Germany when we found out the devastating news. I was adopted myself so this was an option that came to mind instantly – but some agencies may see regular moves as an unstable environment and don’t understand the military lifestyle. In fact, military families are built on love and resilience – and if anything, moving around makes you more stable as a family unit.

“It was our doctor in Germany who told us to get in touch with SSAFA. We were introduced to an amazing social worker who talked us through all the options. At the time we were so desperate to have children, we felt like we had to go through the process as quickly as possible but the best advice from SSAFA was to slow down and give ourselves a year to decide. It gave us time to research and make sure it was the right decision – it’s not something that can be taken lightly.

“SSAFA supported us emotionally and financially through the whole process. They acted as an advocate for us and
understood what military life is like – we knew they had our back and were talking to the local authorities, telling them to consider us as a good option.

“They were so supportive that after adopting our first child, Aaron, we went on to adopt Ruby.

“No matter how difficult our journey has been, it’s all worth it now we have two beautiful children. Being able to
create our own journey and explore with them has made life exciting again – it’s a feeling that just can’t be described.”

  • If you’re considering adoption whilst serving – get in touch with SSAFA at ssafa.org.uk

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