Tag Archives: adoptive parent

Thoughts of an adopted adult in the process of adopting a child themselves

In keeping with our week of content from adopted people, today’s guest post is from an adopted adult who wishes to remain anonymous…

I am 29, nearly 30 years old. I am currently nearing the end of stage 1 in the adoption process. I am married to the wonderful Ed, we’ve been married for 3 years now.

So, why did we decide to adopt you may ask, not married long, and not yet 30, isn’t that too young, too soon? Why not try to have your own children first? try a bit longer maybe?

Well, my answer is that I can tell you firsthand that adoption is a truly amazing thing & well, why wait to welcome a much wanted child into a family who can be the loving family they so desperately need. Yes, the adoption rates are going down, and yes, there are seemingly less children for adoption, but we do know that there are children out there still waiting. Why produce another child, when there is hopefully one already there waiting for us.NAW1

Our case is a bit different as we are not coming into adoption after the heartache of infertility. Yes, we tried naturally for a while, but didn’t want the medical tests and interventions. So, we don’t know why we didn’t conceive, and at this time, we don’t want to take it further. We like the fact that for us, adoption was the 1st option, a very much wanted option, and hopefully one day our child/children will understand that it was a conscious decision to choose to find them. I think you’ll agree this is a pretty amazing thing to do.

This is my story, I am myself adopted, at 16months from Bangladesh.
My parents worked in Bangladesh, and whilst they were there they adopted my twin sister and I. I know that adoption changed our lives. I love the fact that my parents chose me, loved me & have given me the best upbringing any child would want.
I know that without my amazing parents, I wouldn’t have made it through school and university. I wouldn’t have become a successful occupational therapist, and I wouldn’t have developed my own christian faith which is so very important to me. They have taught me to be myself, and have supported me every step of the way. I don’t know what I’d do without them, they inspire me so much, and they have inspired me to adopt a child myself.

As any family, we’ve had ups and downs along the way, but it’s been an amazing adventure too, with many laughs and much fun. All my siblings are also adopted, and we’re just about to add another little sister to our family when my parents adopt an 8year old. We’ve lived in several countries, homeschooled whilst abroad, had some beautiful holidays & had many additions to the extended family as my parents also foster.

I know that things have changed since I was adopted, and that it’s difficult to compare my own adoption with the journey that we’re on now to adopt my own child. However, I can’t help thinking that some things these days are over analysed and thought about. Take inter-racial adoption for example, I’ve experienced it, I live it and I’m all for it! (my ethnicity is Bangladeshi, and my adoptive parents are white British) I don’t particularly remember it being a problem for me when I was younger. Yeah, we got strange looks when we were out as a family, but then again we are a larger family with people of all sorts of colours, so of course we were going to attract attention. I don’t remember any nasty comments or remarks. I think that it doesn’t matter what your colour is, as long as you’re safe, loved and have all your immediate needs met, thats all a child needs.
I think it’s sad that there are so many loving families out there who are not given the chance to adopt a child in need just because they don’t look the same, or won’t fit in. I do however totally get that the child’s identity is important, and this in part will come from discovering who they are and where they came from. As long as the family can demonstrate how they will support the child in exploring and forming their own identity, then race/colour should not be a barrier to adoption. We discussed this at our stage 1 group training, and I think that we challenged the social worker to think about her views on the subject. I was surprised that even these days it’s still a very debated subject in adoption, and I wish it wasn’t.

The adoption process is hard work, very hard. I naturally like to be in control, like to be organised, and like for things to happen when they should. The adoption process has challenged me greatly in all these areas. I think it’s preparing me for adoption and the rest of my life when a child joins our family. Im going to have to get used to contact with social services and the endless waiting and chasing involved in health and social care services (I know, I work in & with one!), but it will be a different experience being on the receiving end this time. I know that when a little person comes into our lives, they’l turn our world upside down, and I’m ready for the challenge (and hopefully joy, love and fun) that they’ll bring.

My thoughts and Experiences of Contact by Amanda Boorman

To start our second Sore Points in adoption week on CONTACT, Amanda Boorman from The Open Nest, tells us about her thoughts and experiences.

As a peer support charity we get calls from adopters asking advice and direction to services for many things. After running for two years I would say the most common issues we are asked about are access to short breaks, aggressive behaviour, problems at school and problems with professionals who ‘don’t get it’

Surprisingly issues with contact and life story very rarely come up.

At the opposite end of this, adults who were adopted report life history, identity and incorrect file information as being one of the key unresolved and painful issues for them.

It is a subject that when discussed can bring up a lot of emotion, anxiety, anger and confusion. I believe the issues of life story and contact in adoption are due a big public debate despite hardly featuring at all in the current adoption reform.

The pervading opinion remains that if a child has been removed from its parents, then by definition those parents do not have rights to seeing or hearing from that child again. To seek contact and the continuing of previous relationships is potentially disruptive and damaging for the child. It is recognised that having to maintain contact could be off putting for prospective adopters.

contact AB

But it is rarely as clear cut as that.

By the time a child or children is removed, social workers have put together the case for removal and presented it to court. It goes without saying that the records involved in this process will focus on the parents failings in relation to their child/children. It is unlikely that future carers will have much more of ‘the family story’ than these failings and scraps of file  information gathered during that process.

Perhaps the debate about contact begins with questioning the quality of, and commitment to, the recording of birth family history before the connections are severed.

This information is not just about parents, it’s about culture and place and extended family history. The programme ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ does not just focus on parents it goes generations back and recipients gain positively from information about family members they have never met even if some of this is sad.

In my adopted daughters case she arrived with a life story that if it were summed up would say:

A cruel and uncaring mother who despite numerous offers of help refused to change, she was selfish, obstructive and very aggressive. She may have been prostituting herself as her daughter has different skin colour to her siblings.

The children were unkempt and living in chaos. They had head lice, skin rashes and ear infections. The children have been removed into temporary foster care on many occasions in order to try and help the parents.

A stubborn disruptive father who will not engage with services and shouts out in meetings, often in front of the children.

There have been many reports to social services from neighbours which describe the mother shouting at the children and slapping them and then causing trouble with the neighbours if they tried to intervene

Based upon this I accepted the professional view that no contact was in the best interests of my daughter and her brothers.

A couple of years after placement I chose to seek out her parents myself. My dad was a history teacher and history, particularly biography, is something we all enjoy as a family. I found the scrap book of disjointed photos that arrived from the foster carers and the file reports lacking in any real and meaningful life history. I felt without detailed history, both good and bad, I couldn’t support my daughter properly.

After meeting her parents the story I had to share with my daughter was:

A mother with an undiagnosed learning disability. Her father was tragically killed at sea when he was in his twenties leaving her (6 months old) her mother and three young siblings. She was prey to a local paedophile at a young age and then abused in local authority care where she was placed due to her subsequent challenging behaviour. Previous relationship with a violent man and a pregnancy with this man that ended up in late stage miscarriage.

Having had an African American great grandfather she and her family have a dark skin colour which has been passed down to her daughter.

One sister is a detective constable who tried to help the family but as a single mum found it impossible. Another is a nurse and the third emigrated to Australia where she cares for the elderly.

The mum is unable to parent without intensive support but when given empathy is fully aware of her failings and honest about these failings. She is very loving but when under pressure becomes anxious and aggressive. She made many calls to social services pretending to be a neighbour and reporting herself. She believed the children should have been removed sooner in the absence of intensive parenting support. She feels social services didn’t ‘get it’. She is unable to read or write without support. She needs help to make it to appointments.

A stubborn but loyal father who is considerably older than the mother. He has previously bought up five children with no local authority involvement. He was extremely fearful of losing the children, he has a deep mistrust of social care systems and is over protective of the mother. When treated with respect he is gentle and generous

There is no doubt that my adopted daughters birth parents failings damaged her. So did the service she received from the state as a vulnerable child. I have no doubt her parents were not easy to deal with. There did however seem to be missed opportunities to gather correct information that could help my daughter understand her family history and identity better as she grew up.

Maintaining contact with an extended family beyond your own can be extremely challenging, especially with scant information and no support. It can also be costly and involve lots of travel.

Making a decision to begin contact or maintain it when the information is damning of parents or news letters are constantly unanswered is almost impossible, especially without a meaningful and safe connection having been established between the two families in advance of the adoption placement.

Where contact has been properly evidenced as being damaging or potentially damaging to children this also needs careful and therapeutic input towards healthy endings that put the child’s needs first. Children should be given therapeutic support to make individual decisions about contact.

This approach would require specialist and committed long term support work. In times of austerity, budget cuts and an adoption agenda focused on recruitment, as well as adoption continuing to be placed culturally as a saving mission, the resources are simply not there. Evidence gathered from adult adoptees about their experience of contact or lack of it is also missing as a means to inform good practice.

In a very small nutshell our family experience of contact has been that we are glad we made it happen.

We wish we had been given more support. It’s been emotional and messy. It’s produced amazing and happy memories and has also triggered some very tricky stuff that has needed to be dealt with therapeutically.

As an adult my daughter tells me that when she struggled after contact it was the saying goodbye again not the contact itself she found difficult. She is glad she got to know her lovely gentle father but the pain of losing him recently is hard. She wonders if it would have been easier not to have known him than deal with the grief. She has forgiven her mother but not forgotten what her failings caused to her and her brothers. She remains angry with her about this (and tells her so) but also loves her unconditionally. She loves her policewoman Aunty who is a role model and is proud of her brave grandad who risked and lost his life for others.

She no longer feels she is from a ‘bad’ family and identifies positively with her home town. Contact got to the truth warts and all.

Sometimes as an adopted person she hates her mum….both of us.

The Open Nest Charity provides a neutral, safe and calm environment for both sibling and birth family contact www.theopennest.co.uk

My Twitter Life by @KatSwrites

Today’s post from @KatSwrites is part of our My Twitter Life series. Twitter has helped so many people connect with each other, and it can be a useful tool for support…

katswrites

Social networking had been one of those things I had only used with slight interest. I rarely went on Facebook and used Twitter to follow celebrities and pop culture news.

Then, in March 2013, I started blogging about my life growing up adopted and read that to promote a blog, it was important to use social networking sites. I set up my Twitter account with no expectations really. I figured maybe a handful of people might read my blog.

What happened next still blows me away.

I connected.

I found adoptees, first moms, adoptive parents, adoption reform activists and organizations that have fully impacted my life. I have formed amazing relationships with some Twitter folk that extend beyond Twitter. I became involved in the issues that adoptees face. I have met some of these people in real life and found them to be supportive in both the real world and online arenas. They have made me a better writer and more importantly, a better listener.

I witnessed.

I see what is happening in people’s lives. When a fellow adoptee is having a bad day, or is anxious about reunion, I see that. I have witnessed my Twitter friends deal with adoption issues, big issues, little issues and … life. I have taken part in groups such as #WASO (weekly adoption shout out) and watched it grow into The Adoption Social. I have witnessed fundraising for documentaries showing adoptee’s stories and seen those efforts met. These are amazing stories that I have witnessed happening!

I listened.

I have learned to step back and really listen. There is nothing like getting into a debate over a misinterpretation due to the 140 character limit to make you stop and think before overreacting the next time. Now I try to see the other person’s perspective. It doesn’t mean that I will not continue to state my point of view as well, but I try to HEAR what the other person is saying.

I learned.

I started out wanting to share my experience from which others may learn. Now that has changed. Maybe someone will take something from what I write, maybe not. That is okay because the knowledge that others have shared with me, far outweighs my own writing.

I learned to not make blanket statements. I learned to read links that people tweet. I learned to comment on blogs to connect with others. I learned to think before I tweet. I learned to get informed. I learned to see different perspectives, even if I disagreed. I learned to listen!

I have learned about the issues of adoptees. For example, one issue is the sealing of original birth certificates. Through Twitter, I was able to become involved in the Adoptee Rights Demonstration just last week.

I have learned about what some first moms have experienced. The openness with which they share their stories has amazed me, and their conversations regarding adoption ethics have made me think.

I have learned about the adoptive parent experience. Countless APs have shared their perspectives, insecurities and triumphs with me. They have stood beside adoptees and made our issues their issues.

Twitter is more than just a website. It’s a portal to an amazing community.

For me, Twitter is a Listen, Learn, Witness and Connect world!

Share with me on Twitter at @KatSwrites or on my blog www.sisterwish.com

Stop the Blame Game

This anonymous post has been written for our BlogIess Blogging section where people without blogs can write, or people with blogs can post anonymously. If you’d like to write for this section, please do contact us.
PicMonkey Collage

I started Tweeting for me. It was a personal thing. I found a broad group of people involved in adoption – adoptees, adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents, wider family, kinship carers…all sorts.
This circle of tweeters became an additional support network for me, initially at a time when things were tough at home with my adoptive children.

I tweet a lot. Sometimes snippets of my life. Sometimes links to longer blog posts. Sometimes I retweet things that are interesting, or that I can identify with. And I read lots of tweets, and blogs, from all sorts of people.

What I’ve been surprised at, as an adoptive parent is the attitude of some adoptees and some birth parents towards me personally. I tweet to get things off my chest and to reach out for support. I get an awful lot of support, but I get a fair bit of abuse too. I’ve been called the worst names, things I couldn’t repeat here, really properly vile, evil names. And not just on Twitter, via Facebook groups that weren’t properly moderated, in real life and on my personal blog.

I just want to say – I DIDN’T ADOPT YOU – I adopted the children who are upstairs in their beds right now. And I’m doing my damned best to right the wrongs that happened BEFORE we came to be in each other’s lives. Their birth parents abused them. The institution of adoption may have damaged them. But I DIDN’T. I don’t suggest I saved them, because I didn’t. I’m just prepared to love them and keep them as safe as I can. I have a life semi-planned in my head, I have hopes and dreams, and ideals for them. That doesn’t make me a bad person, it means I care. I don’t deny them their pasts, we share and talk about those pasts, we talk about their birth parents, we’re in safe, managed contact with members of their birth family that want it, but mostly I try to live in the present, in order to give them a future, that may or may not include their birth parents.

And to birth parents – I DIDN’T TAKE YOUR CHILD AWAY. Social Services took your child away. Focus your anger at them if you have to. I am aware that sometimes children are removed when they needn’t be, but I do know the history of my children, and I do know that it was right they were removed. Adoption isn’t always the best thing, but it was the best option at the time for my children. I don’t project my sadness and anger about the behaviour of my children’s birth parents at you (or anyone in fact), please don’t project your anger at me.

Often my life as an adoptive parent seems full of justification. I have had to justify my past to a social worker, I have to justify my parenting skills to other social workers, I have to justify my parenting to other parents, I have to justify the decisions I make on behalf of my children, when they’re older, I’ll have to justify to my children why I took those decisions. But do you know what…all I ever wanted was to be a parent, who are you to judge me? Who are you to question me?

It’s hard enough raising traumatised children without accusations, abuse and judgements. If you have something useful and constructive to say that will help me parent my children, then by all means share it, but aiming your frustrations and anger at me makes my job even harder…it’s a shame because I think we could all teach each other something if we were prepared to listen more and shout at each other less…

What do you think? Could we all learn from each other? Have you experienced problems with people from different sides of adoption? Or have you found it easy to reach different groups of people? Leave your comments here…