Pioneering work of social services teams featured in new documentary on adoption

Paralympic champion Ellie Simmonds has revealed she was given up for adoption when she was two weeks old, as she tracked down her birth mother for a new documentary.

The former Strictly Come Dancing star (pictured), who has achondroplasia dwarfism, explores the relationship between disability and adoption in Ellie Simmonds: Finding My Secret Family for ITV.

She said: “Until now, it’s never emotionally affected me, it never made me feel rejected or ask why do my birth parents not want me.

“I’ve been so focused on the future and never thought about it.”

She added: “One of the reasons for being given up for adoption is because of dwarfism and maybe it can be a factor of why my personality is like it is now, because of that rejection at the start.

“Even if you do have a loving family being rejected straight away, like as soon as you were born.”

In the documentary Simmonds spends time with families who adopted disabled children and hears deeply personal stories from disabled people who tried to find their birth parents, only to be rejected again.

The programme aims to highlight the pioneering work of social services teams around the UK and explore barriers on both sides of the adoptive process, both social and institutional to ask if they are perpetuating an unfounded stigma around having disabled children.

After finally meeting her birth mother for the first time, Simmonds said: “I think it’s really helped that finding out who I am, looking at someone who birthed me, the nature that I’m from and the questions I had to ask her and she answered them it makes you a bit more whole.”

She added: “Although I have no idea how all this will play out, I’m glad I’ve gone through this process, questions I’ve carried for years have been answered.

“I’m proud of my life and I love my family and maybe, perhaps, that family just got bigger.”

Ellie Simmonds: Finding My Secret Family will air on ITV on July 6.

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