New powerful portraits featuring generations of adopted people have been released to spotlight how adoption has evolved.
To mark the launch of National Adoption Week, a powerful set of portraits captured by royal, fashion and portrait photographer Philip Sinden have been released. The portraits show striking imagery of eight different people who were adopted between the 1960s-2010s. Each individual portrait features a backdrop of emotive and poignant words that bring to life how adoption has shaped, and continues to shape, their live and highlights how adoption has changed over the years.
The portraits have been released alongside a new short film captured during the photoshoot and hears firsthand the group’s different experiences – challenging misconceptions about what adoption looks like today.
The stories of different people captured on the day highlight how adoption has changed. Historically, adoption was often seen as secretive and hidden, with little information and support provided to help adopted people understand their history and maintain connections with their birth family. However, it is now considered vital that adopted people have a good understanding of their history and reason why they were adopted to help form a positive sense of identity.
Philip Sinden, who was adopted and is now a photographer, said: “It was such a pleasure and privilege to photograph such a wonderful group of people for national adoption week, and hear each of their unique stories of how adoption has shaped who they are today. I was adopted in the 1970s and unfortunately didn’t know much about my history growing up, but more recently have been on a journey to find out more about it. It is encouraging to see and hear from some of the stars of our portraits about how positive they feel about their experiences and how much adoption has evolved.”
As the film demonstrates, the adoption process looks very different today from 50 years ago. This includes staying in touch with birth relatives and friends (when safe and appropriate), and maintaining these connections through life story books, later life letters, and memory boxes, which all help adopted people stay connected to their past. This contrasts with previous generations, where many people may not have even known they were adopted.
Jane Francis, Assistant Head of Adoption at Adopt Birmingham, said: “It is vital that adopted people have a good understanding of their history, and the reason why they were adopted, to help form a positive sense of identity.
“This hasn’t always been the case, with many people who are adopted not knowing they were adopted until much later in life – or not having access to any of their first family story.”
“Adopt Birmingham has lots of ways to help children and their adopters with understanding their identity and many adopters today make it a priority to help their children to understand and develop their identity.”
Whilst recognising the challenges they have faced along the way, the new campaign brings to life the transformational power of a permanent family home. There is still a huge need for more people to come forward to adopt, with a 23% decline in the proportion of children leaving care via adoption over the last five years – last year (2022), 2,950 children left care via adoption, 900 less than in 2018.
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