Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What makes people want to adopt?

Yesterday I received the press release from our Local Authority about me and Mike for National Adoption Week.  I made a few amendments and sent it back this morning.  I am feeling both excited and nervous about what this might bring.  

I feel excited because I want to share how wonderful adoption can be and hopefully bring forward more potential adopters.  There are so many children needing homes and so many people that might consider offering them a home.  It is natural to want a biological child, I know we did.  We did, because it didn't even occur to us to consider adoption as an option.  We went to hell and back in pursuit of a biological childIt took a long time before adoption was something we considered seriously and even then it took us 5 years to reach a point when we wanted to pursue this route.  We are biologically programmed to procreate.  Yet, for some people, either because they are unable to have biological children or because they have grown up with experience of fostering or adoption or because they know in their hearts that they want to adopt and made a difference, adoption is a route to creating a family.  Yet many people are put off.  Why?  

One reason is that many people cannot imagine loving a child that isn't biologically theirs.  The geneology is so important.  I cannot imagine that it is possible to love a child more than I love Katie, yet I did not give birth to her. 

People are put off adoption because the process takes so long or because they are worried they are too old, not in a relationship or in a single sex relationship or there there are fears that they may not be approved because of something in their background that causes them concern.  

People may be worried about the experiences a child has been through and how this may effect them throughout their life.  Potential adopters are given information about some of the very negative behaviour very emotionally damaged children may display.  This is quite scary to hear and this is often the point that people walk away from the process.  Yet behind all of this, are children.  Children who deserve the very best life has to offer them.  Children who, through no fault of their own, need parents who are able to take care of them and give them love and who will help them find their way in life.  Fundementally they are no different than biological children.  All children need love.  So many children are growing up in the care systemMany of them are with foster parents who love them and make them part of their family. Some older children are in childrens homes.  How can that situation enable a child to flourish?  Children need long term stability and investment in them and above all love.  We are often given a picture of these children that makes them scary.  Are we good enough parents to help a child through all these emotional or physical difficulties?  This is a very individual decision and one that makes you question everything you ever thought about being a parent and also your parenting abilities.  People understandably question whether they have the skills to parent an emotionally damaged child.  The adoption services aren't looking for super-human adopters.  They are looking for real people with experiences.  Those experiences that have shaped you as a person; the trials that you have overcome; those experiences that mean you can relate to how an adopted child may feel about themselves and their life and the ways in which they may express those feelings.  So many of us have experienced loss; we may have estranged relationships in our life; people it has not been possible to maintain a relationship with; relationships we have had to walk away from; family members or friends with illness or disability.  There are so many experiences that ordinary people have that they can draw on to help them be successful adopters.  We adopters are not super-human people. We are ordinary people who want to love a child and have a family.  Social Workers will guide adopters and help them understand their limits as a potential parent so that they can match them with the child that is right for them.  In our case this has worked perfectly and in the majority of the people that I know this has also been the case.  I only know personally of one adoption where there was a breakdown and I know lots of adopters.



So why am I feeling nervous about being involved with the media?  There is only one reason.  Actually there are two but the second one is just the usual nerves at saying the wrong thing - the usual self esteem stuff.  The main reason is ensuring Katie's anonymity.  Many of the people in our life know that Katie is adopted but not everyone in her life knows that she is adopted.  I would hate to do anything that might cause her any kind of harm in the future.  We are doing everything we can to ensure this doesn't happen.  We won't be using our surnames; or Katie's real name.  We won't be advertising whereabouts in the county we live.  I don't want people to look at her and say "there's that adopted kid".  We all cherish our anonymity, unless we seek fame.  I would hate for her to lose that.  It's weighing up the pros and cons though.  I feel so strongly about being an advocate for adoption and I hope Katie grows up feeling that adoption is something positive and something that we are proud of.  I hope that we can encourage more people to think about adoption.

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