Inspirational adoptive mum awarded MBE

Sue and Jim Clifford

ADOPTION charity Parents and Children Together (PACT) is celebrating the inclusion of one of its adopters in the New Year Honours list. Sue Clifford is being awarded an MBE for services to children and families.

PACT supports families across the south east through adoption, award-winning therapeutic support and community projects.

Sue and husband Jim Clifford OBE, have adopted nine children over the last 20 years, the last five of whom were through PACT. They chose adoption over IVF after being unable to conceive and have used therapeutic parenting methods to transform the lives of their children, all of whom had complex needs.

The first children they adopted, their eldest daughters, were six and almost 10 when placed. The girls had been overlooked by other adopters due to their ages, and the local authority was considering splitting them up.

Sue said: “The girls had always lived together, and Jim and I were horrified to think they might be separated.” For Jim and Sue it was the start of a remarkable family life, going on to adopt a further seven children.

The couple believe that “every child should have the best childhood they can” and after adopting their own children, they founded a pioneering scheme – IAAM (It’s All About Me) to find adopters for the children who often wait the longest to be adopted.

The IAAM scheme recognises that there is a group of children for whom moving to a new family and forming attachments is particularly difficult. The scheme provides adopters with an enhanced support package and additional support.

PACT Chief Executive Jan Fishwick said: “We are delighted that Sue’s inspirational story has been recognised. What makes this extraordinary couple stand out from other adoptive parents is that their motivation to adopt was completely altruistic, as they deliberately set out to adopt specifically hard-to-place, older children with very complex needs. This is indeed a rare commodity in the world of adoption.

“Sue has the most amazing ability to build her children’s self-esteem, making them feel worthy and valued.  She is hugely empathetic and, despite many setbacks and initial rejections, never falters in her unending advocacy, support, love and therapeutic care of her children. 

“The scale of her achievement, and that of her children’s with her guiding hand, not only has a massive impact on these new members of society, but on society itself.  The impact is unending.”

Sue said: “I am absolutely delighted to receive this award, it is a complete surprise and completely unexpected.

“Over the years I have supported well over 100 families, many for extended periods. Currently I am supporting around 25 families in total, and also co-facilitating Diadic Developmental Pschotherapy training for adoptive families. I have also spoken at conferences and support groups to encourage and support adopters and to campaign for more appropriate training and adoption support.”

To find out more about PACT visit: www.pactcharity.org.  

Sue and husband Jim are pictured speaking at a PACT event in 2011.