BBC1, 10.35pm Monday 16 to Friday 20 July
Star Rating: 4/5
The Family Wanted programmes shown on BBC1 each weekday evening last week told a series of powerful tales of adoption, writes Lauren Revans.
The five half-hour mini documentaries gave personal accounts of what it is like to be involved in the adoption process, from everyone’s perspective: the adopted child, the adoptive family, foster carers, social workers, and even the adopted adult.
The series kicked off with the tale of Sejal and Kamlesh, who wanted to adopt after one of their twin daughters died and they discovered they couldn’t have more children of their own.
The programme focused on the matching process, and their search for an Asian Hindu child.
The adoption register open days were both surreal and heart-breaking; a cross between a jobs fair and a street market, but with the stall holders handing out leaflets on children in care rather than employment details or fruit and vegetables. The adoption panel experience, meanwhile, came across as daunting and overly formal, with little effort made to make prospective adopters feel at ease.
The real success story in terms of the process was the work done in preparing child R for adoption and in preparing everyone involved for his arrival. The first time Sejal and Kamlesh turned up at child R’s foster carer’s home, the two-year-old instantly recognised them as his “mum and dad” thanks to work done familiarising him in advance with their photographs.
The importance of life story books, meanwhile, was the compelling message to come out of Tuesday’s tale about brothers Conor and Mack, who were adopted aged four and six and later joined by their birth sister baby Emily. “It means a lot,” said Mack. “If I lost it, I would be really sad. It’s got all pictures of my birth mum and birth dad. It’s the story of my life.”
The focus of the programme this time was largely post-adoption, depicting how difficult it can be to adjust to life as a new family. Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this case was the failure to inform adoptive parents Jim and Lynda of Conor’s autism diagnosis until after the adoption was complete.
For both these families, though, there were happy endings. However, the programmes then went on to give glimpses of the unfinished stories of more children like child R, Conor, Mack and Emily. The clever juxtaposition of the haves and have nots will surely spur some viewers on to find out more about adopting a child.
➔ More information from www.bbc.co.uk/familywanted