Food for thought


I wrote this post in 2017, but it’s still very much relevant now. Adoption brings a complicated mix of emotions. Heartbreak and devastation for birth families. Joy and excitement for adoptive families who are welcoming children into their lives.

Adoption doesn’t define our children. It’s something that happens to them which is completely out of their control. They deserve to have a happy, settled childhood. They deserve to be celebrated.

Celebrating our children doesn’t wipe out their past. As adopters, we can’t change their early life. But we can help them move forward and embrace who they are.

And a vital part of this is having access to the right support quickly. Four years on from this post, it’s disappointing to see things haven’t improved with this. In fact, they’ve probably got worse due to the pandemic.

Food for thought
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

National Adoption Week (NAW) has ended for another year. The focus on the campaign this year was siblings. 61% of the children waiting to be adopted in the UK are in a sibling group. NAW has prompted a lot of thought provoking blog posts about the state of adoption in the UK.

One post in particular really got me thinking. The writer said they felt uncomfortable reading about adopters who share their joy at having children, ignoring the cause of why their children are adopted.

I started writing about our journey because I wanted to give an honest insight of what adoption is really like. So far, a lot of our journey has been positive and I’m not going to apologise for that. Our daughter has brought so much joy and happiness to our lives. But I’m acutely aware that her birth family have suffered an unimaginable loss by not being able to see her grow up.

If I had a magic wand, I’d want our daughter to grow up with her birth family in a safe and happy environment. The heart-breaking reality is, she can’t.

There’s no doubt in my mind if her birth mum had had the kind of childhood I was lucky enough to have, our daughter would be growing up with her. My parents weren’t particularly well off but my childhood was filled with love, security and lots of amazing experiences.

In an ideal world, that’s what all children would experience and we wouldn’t need adoption. In that world, all parents would have the skills to provide good enough care to their children. People would tolerate each other and live side by side in harmony. Addiction to drugs and alcohol wouldn’t be an issue.

Unfortunately, we live in a world which is a long, long way from that ideal.

The joys and benefits of living in a modern society driven by money, technology and the desire to be the best, doesn’t suit everyone. The long term impact of such a society is a bigger gap between rich and poor.

As things stand, adoption is necessary to try and ensure that those children who are not receiving good enough parenting, can have the best chance of reaching their potential.

Food for thought
Photo by Gabriel Lamza on Unsplash

The adoption system in the UK isn’t perfect by a long shot. One of it’s biggest failings is the lack of timely, consistent and appropriate post adoption support. Any child who is adopted has suffered trauma. Even those who are placed in foster to adopt placements from birth, suffer trauma.

I’ve written before about the research that shows trauma can be experienced in the womb. Any child who isn’t able to grow up with their birth family suffers trauma. Parenting adopted children can be extremely challenging and getting the right support quickly is crucial.

I’ve read some heart-breaking blogs in recent months written by adoptive parents desperately trying to get the help and support they need for their children who’ve suffered devastating trauma. That trauma is being prolonged by the lack of timely and appropriate support.

Being removed from the source of hurt and danger isn’t the cure for the trauma. That’s only the start. Some children are so badly traumatised and damaged by their early life experiences, they’ll never be able to recover. However, giving the right help early on in a placement gives them the best possible chance. That isn’t happening and it needs to change.

If things don’t change, the cycle is just going to continue. Adoption doesn’t cure the root of the problem. Children damaged by their early life experiences are likely to pass on that behaviour to their children. And so the cycle continues.

As a society we have to take responsibility for our behaviour. The reasons children are adopted now are very different from fifty. Back then, it was usually because of having a child out of wedlock.

Society has moved on a lot since then. However, neglect, violence and drug / alcohol abuse are the main reasons now why children can’t live with their birth family.

As an adopter, I’m not sure how much impact I can have on any of that. What I can do is continue to share our experience so that those considering adoption can have as much information as possible.



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