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Published: May 10, 2024

Coram’s Be My Family service and Now Foster have teamed up to raise the profile of fostering and adoption amongst people at the beginning of their family building journey. This new blog by Now Foster’s Sara Fernandez shares some of the learning from the project so far.

Two different routes often misunderstood

The way that adoption and fostering are organised means that the two options are very isolated from each other. This leads to significant misunderstandings for people who are looking at their family building options. In our “test-and-learn” work, we found that many people did not have a clear understanding of the differences between fostering and adoption. In particular, there were significant misconceptions about fostering. As part of this project, we wanted to put fostering and adoption on a more equal footing, help people understand the similarities and differences between these options, and make a decision about whether fostering or adoption would work best for them.

Reaching people earlier in their journey

Building a family through fostering or adoption can be a very private decision. Most people who reach the fostering or adoption early stages have spoken to people in their immediate network who have been involved in one of those routes. But, they may not have had the information to consider both family building options side-by-side. A key way to address this challenge is to speak to people earlier in their journey, before they feel like they have fully committed to a particular plan.

Introducing new language and messaging

The refreshed approach tested through Be My Family focused on “family building” language. The core idea was to focus on the fact that children require  a loving and committed carer regardless of whether the plan for them is fostering or adoption. We highlighted the day-to-day similarities in parenting, while clearly explaining the difference in parent responsibilities and the legal framework underpinning both. This involved putting fostering and adoption side-by-side in a wide range of areas, such as the application process, parenting, professional support, helping potential ‘extra parents’ gain an in-depth understanding of both routes, and make their own decision.

Supporting people in the first step towards family building

We have spoken to many other families and individuals in the development of this work. These conversations have highlighted the need to continue our independent, information-focused work. It’s important to note that we do advocate for one or other placement option. Instead, we focus on educating people so that they can make their own decisions, ask questions, and most importantly, take their next step in their journey. This is essential because many people tell us they may want to foster or adopt, but on a theoretical level. Through family building, we want to help people take practical steps towards seriously exploring fostering or adoption. We are delighted that, so far, three different households were supported through the family building route. One of them has gone on to explore adoption, one of them has expressed interest in becoming a Weekend foster carer, and one of them is still thinking about their future plans.

Help us spread the word 

We are interested in working with employers and community groups to increase awareness amongst people who may be thinking about family building in the medium to long term.  If you are interested in finding out more about this work, get in touch!



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