THE mother of an adopted six-year-old, who also pairs other youngsters with families for a living, has urged others to open up their homes as adopters.

Karen Barrick, who took on her son when he was four, spoke as Blackburn and Darwen Adoption Services was re-launched.

There are 34 children aged eight and under in the Blackburn with Darwen Council area waiting for adoption, and many are under two.

The move comes in response to a change in Government legislation, which broadened the scope of people who can legally adopt a child.

Single people, non-homeowners, those in full-time employment, same-sex couples and 21-year-olds are among those who can apply.

The guidelines have also been updated to allow more children to be matched with parents irrespective of race or religion.

Karen, who is head of permanence children’s services at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “There are 34 children in Blackburn and Darwen who are waiting to be adopted, most in the nought to five age range.

“For a small place it’s quite a high number, and the number has increased gradually.

“I have a boy who is six-and-a-half. It’s been a fabulous experience. I’m a big advocate of adoption from a personal perspective as well as a professional one.

“We recognise it’s a lifelong committment, but we have a really good support service. We’re not on people’s backs, but we’re there to support people if they have any issues in the future.

“I’d encourage people to think about it who may not have thought about it before.”

She was speaking at Tuesday’s Let’s Adopt event at Ewood Park, Blackburn, which was attended by adoptive parents, prospective adoptors, and dignitaries.

Special guest, former Coronation Street star Wendi Peters, told the audience she was supporting the initiative because of the important role family plays in her life.

Blackburn-born Wendi, famous for playing Cilla Battersby-Brown, said: “There are children out there that need families and there’s nothing like being part of a family.

“I lived here until I was 16 and it’s a wonderful area to grow up in. There’s no way I’m saying motherhood is an easy ride. It’s the most challenging job I’ve ever done, but it’s also the most rewarding.

“I would encourage anybody to take the plunge — come on, there are children out there that need families.”

To find out more about adoption, visit http://letsadopt. The council is holding an adoption information event at King George’s Hall, Northgate Suite, on Wednesday between 4pm and 7pm.

  TEACHERS Gary and Victoria Whiting face an anxious few weeks as they wait to hear whether they can adopt a child.

Waiting for the big decision

Gary, 33, and Victoria, 32, from Darwen, will find out on March 6.

Gary said: “We can’t have our own children so adoption was a logical next step for us. We wanted to make a difference to somebody’s life.

“We’re intrigued about the changes ahead of us. It’s a learning experience.”

And Victoria said: “We’re absolutely excited, mixed with a sense of anxiety and anticipation.”

The couple said they had found the process easier than they initially thought, and had received valuable support from Blackburn with Darwen Council.

Gary said: “It actually was a lot simpler than we anticipated. It’s been quite quick and streamlined, and you know what’s going to happen from one stage to the next, your hand is held.”