Dispelling some of the negative myths around life in adoption and care, our panel are living examples of the kind of success that children raised in the system can go on to achieve.

Sharing their personal stories and views on adoption and care are broadcaster Lemn Sissay MBE, Naz Shah MP, author Kit De Waal, and the University of Bradford’s director of external affairs, Mark Garratt.

All our panellists have first hand experience of the system and can offer a different, informed take on an undeniably complex process, as well as explaining how their formative experiences helped them become the successful adults they are today.


Lemn Sissay

Lemn Sissay is an author, poet and playwright and has been awarded an MBE for services to literature. In 2018 he was made Poet Laureate of Canterbury. He has read poetry everywhere, from the shores of Sri Lanka to Wigan Library and many places between. His autobiography My Name is Why was published in 2019.

Naz Shah

Naz Shah is the Member of Parliament for Bradford  West and has been a Member of the Home Affairs select committe e since 2015. Naz is also the Chair of APPG for Islamic finance, former Chair of APPG for Islamophobia & now Vice chair on the APPG for British Muslims, and APPG for Integration.

Mark Garratt

Mark S Garratt is director of external affairs at the University of Bradford. He has spent nearly 30 years in senior roles in marketing and customer management in the private and public sectors worldwide. These include RBS Group, British Airways and Barnardos, as well as launching MORETH>N Insurance and Confused.com. He was adopted at the age of two months, then traced his birth parents at the age of 38.

Ralph Dartford

Ralph Dartford is the author of Cigarettes, Beer and Love (Ossett Observer Presents 2013) and Recovery Songs (Valley Press 2019). His forthcoming third collection, Serotonin Songs will be published by Valley Press in 2021. Ralph is writer and tutor who mainly works with people who are in recovery from alcohol and substance abuse. His spoken word performance show, Recovery Songs continues to tour nationally.

About The Author

Kit de Waal

Kit de Waal was born in Birmingham to an Irish mother, who was a foster carer and a Caribbean father. She worked for fifteen years in criminal and family law, was a magistrate for several years and sits on adoption panels. She used to advise Social Services on the care of foster children, and has written training manuals on adoption and foster care. Her writing has received numerous awards including the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize 2014 and 2015 and the SI Leeds Literary Reader’s Choice Prize 2014. ‘My Name is Leon’ is her first novel.