Monday, 30 January 2012

I was seven when I was adopted

(c) Maker Mama
Today on the blog we hear from Nicholas, who explains how "the gift of adoption" changed he and his sister's lives for the better.

I was seven - my little sister four - when I was adopted.

Although this is my story, it feels incomplete without her. If fortune played any part in the tale, my age gave me a strange and somewhat sheltered perspective on events. Unlike my older half-siblings, I was too young to fully comprehend what was happening to us all and unlike my little sister, too old perhaps to have suffered too much damage to the earliest years of my childhood, where the family unit – and in particular the maternal bond - is so important. I try not to write on her behalf; she is simply the most valuable person in the world to me.

For all the experiences that I’d like to forget, they are unavoidable and important and make me who I am, in the same way that many hardships do. Through adoption, I’ve been given the chance to make good the bad start that me and my sister had. I’m very fortunate in that regard.

Growing up, I often imagined that certain things could go back to the way they were; in recent years it appears that things – in most cases people - continue to move further apart. It was naive of me to think that some wounds would heal and I’ve come to accept that this is very much part of the process. Relationships were changed forever, slowly drifting apart from the point of impact years before.

We had an abusive Father who I know caused untold damage to many other families besides my own. Pieces of unpleasant memories remain, and I remember sharing the news that I was going away with some members of my birth family. Although it’s a hazy recollection and I still keep in touch with the people who were in that room on that day, it felt like we were saying goodbye to something forever.

I lived with two foster families over two years. Again, they are fairly incomplete memories but fond ones all the same. The first was a busy household shared with many other foster children. We were a tapestry of fragile people that helped to create familiarity for one another. An older lady called Betty looked after us all. Our second family were more traditional – two brothers, a Mum and a Dad, myself and my sister. Things seemed more normal, although any sense insecurity was most likely born of my own growing awareness that things were not right and more changes were on the way.

My journey towards adoption became more vivid when one morning we received a photo album. Inside - a lady with big red hair; a man with long black hair; a cottage with an apple tree in a green and leafy back garden; a black dog and two tabby cats. This would soon become our new life. One day a big red car – also in one of the pictures – arrived and carried us and our things to our new home. We lived in a quiet village, in a small house with a thatched roof. It was idyllic in many ways and helped to create new memories that were strong and good. Things have continued that way despite some difficult moments, a few changes of location and the usual hurdles of life, to this very day.

I owe everything I have to the gift of adoption – I dread to think where many thousands of children would be without it. I will do what I can to promote what I believe is a truly important social tool; it creates family from fear, security from suffering and provides a unique opportunity to give children the right to a promising future.

For more stories from adopted people, please check out 'The Colours In Me' on BAAF's online bookstore.






Thursday, 26 January 2012

Tracing birth relatives through social media

Last night marked BAAF's first Twitter Chat of 2012. With an increased focus on adoption and social networking in the press recently, many adopted people may consider tracing birth relatives – and vice versa – via sites such as Facebook. Between 7pm and 8pm adopters, adoptees, and those interested in the issues gathered on Twitter to discuss.

@EmmaLangman
@BAAFAdoption Sorry I didn't make it tonight. Looking forward to reading the timeline on the #adoptfosterchat tag. xx

@spursblogger
RT @baafadoption: Check out our blog - bit.ly/977pnx - tomorrow for a round-up of tonight's discussion #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
People talk lots about post-adoption contact but absolutely @PottiJo, more post-adoption support needed 4 all involved #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@PottiJo @BAAFAdoption Good news is through GP he now has fab counsellor. #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@PottiJo @BAAFAdoption Our son was nearly six & needed something. We were told time would fix everything. Sad for him #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@MiddleAgedCred @BAAFAdoption Actually I do feel thats an area that could do with input ... post adoption support for kids#adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@PottiJo @BAAFAdoption and for the kids as counselling for them could have avoided unhappiness later #adoptfosterchat

@Familoo
@Jags_Catering #adoptfosterchat something slightly diffrnt from lifestory work I think. More gritty realism- or is that unfair on lifestory?

@PottiJo
@MiddleAgedCred @BAAFAdoption thats no good for you though and others that needed it before. Makes me value the agency here#adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@PottiJo @BAAFAdoption Had one now as scored poorly on audit but too late for when we needed them #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
G'night all. I enjoyed #adoptfosterchat. T'was my first twitter chat and was interesting. Keen to read @BAAFAdoption's round up tomorrow

@PottiJo
@SVPhillimore of course but good supportive training lays the foundations to help adoptive parents become resilient#adoptfosterchat

@ins_foundations
@BAAFAdoption Thank you, another good chat. Will look forward to the next one #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@SVPhillimore @MiddleAgedCred I think in some cases yes..... sad I know and the recent report highlighted this #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@BAAFAdoption Thank you for running these #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@Children_Law fingers crossed! #dontholdyourbreath #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@BAAFAdoption thanks :) enjoyed it #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@AdoptResources @harryandrews thats exactly the right approach i believe. x #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@SVPhillimore that is my thinking. More support in advance/at the outset may prevent breakdowns/disruption later #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@BAAFAdoption Maybe better authorities could mentor those authorities that perform less well in the adoption process#adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@PottiJo @harryandrews we're starting off chatting about being safe online and choosing usernames #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@MiddleAgedCred @BAAFAdoption well they need a good shake up then #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Check out our blog - bit.ly/977pnx - tomorrow for a round-up of tonight's discussion #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@MiddleAgedCred This is my concern: that perhaps not enough support is even before the event to equip adoptive parents#adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@MiddleAgedCred @SVPhillimore thats dreadful. Were the agency not open to you contacting and asking for advice #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@MiddleAgedCred @pottijo I have heard this from others. so support varies hugely according to your LA? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Thanks everyone for joining us tonight! If you need more info/advice, head to our website - bit.ly/r42JM8 #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@BAAFAdoption They have since been audited and scored v poorly on adoption & foster support #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@SVPhillimore @Children_Law I think it depends where in the country as disruption rates in some places are good #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
Easy to find potential family members via SM but the issue is how you contact them, adults will think it through, kids wont #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@PottiJo sorry missed first tweet! Training sounds good - but facing reality inevitably different I would assume #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @PottiJo: @AdoptResources @harryandrews I guess tht open honest dialogue, trust and respect help to ensure communication#adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@AdoptResources @harryandrews I guess that open honest dialogue, trust and respect help to ensure communication#adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@harryandrews I know many 11 yo using Facebook #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@MiddleAgedCred Sorry to hear this - did you feed this back to agency? #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@Children_Law does this help to explain why disruption rates so high? #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@PottiJo this = my experience from recent clients adopting. They met with parents & happy to do that. Still changed names#adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@SVPhillimore @PottiJo We adopted 10 yrs ago & frankly have had no advice or support. GP has been our saviour #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@harryandrews Difficult =- hopefully parents talk to their children about these issues #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@SVPhillimore No thats not it at all as they will have had months of prep and hard work before hand, but panels do ask #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@harryandrews our kids' friends started as young as 10yo... 12yo not interested at moment but 11yo more keen #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@PottiJo is that it? I bet the reality must be harder than answering a question at panel... #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@PottiJo @SVPhillimore it can be tricky to find the right words when it comes out of the blue #adoptfosterchat

@harryandrews
facebook's minimum age limit is 14, i think. assuming that's widely flouted, when do we expect it to kick in? 12? 11? #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
Im not convinced that these issues are properly addressed if at all in adoption support plans. Doesn't it start there? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Don't forget our freephone adoption helpline is open 9am-1pm weekdays throughout January - 0800 652 9626 #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
panel will often ask about how adopters will share info with children and the worse case scenario stuff @SVPhillimore #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Great to see everyone sharing their stories tonight! #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@miss_smidge absolutely - my extended family had no idea (it was a bit of a whoops moment for them) #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@SVPhillimore here they get lots of training & support & in depth workshops which cover stuff like how to tell them etc #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
@PottiJo I agree, also fear of what has been told to family and out of blueness issue #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@miss_smidge don't forget each person has a different response so there is deffo no 'one size fits all' approach #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@PottiJo what kind of training or support do adopters get? This must be fantastically hard, to strike right balance #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
@miss_smidge yeah but thats me. I was glad when the letter arrived out of the blue and then couldn't wait for the emails! #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
Some good adoption reunion and contact chat tonight on@BAAFAdoption #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
Indeed it may well be grim reading so that's why its essential that adoptive parents are open and honest @SVPhillimore #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Social networking and contact: bit.ly/yfogTl #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
@PottiJo really? so you would have welcomed contact via FB or twitter? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Facing up to Facebook: bit.ly/xs04zA #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
@Jags_Catering sorry, social worker rather than direct contact through SM #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
Joining in with #adoptfosterchat tonight about #adoption search and reunion and use of social media, really interesting subject!

@SVPhillimore
@Jags_Catering mobiles can be quite difficult, had lots of problems with foster pmts. As ever, depends on how it's used #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Full search & reunion titles in our bookstore here: bit.ly/x0LtfG#adoptfosterchat

16h Fiona @AdoptResources
@harryandrews really tricky to manage risks with living a normal (nowadays) life #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
@Jags_Catering I agree (that is what i just said!) #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@MiddleAgedCred @ins_foundations @AdoptResources it's hard getting balance right and keeping it safe for all... #adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
If FB had been around when my son made contact I would have been thrilled. As it was it was via a letter then email #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@miss_smidge Important everyone has space & time to think about what they want #adoptfosterchat

@miss_smidge
Have found out so much through SM but plan to go traditional route of contact - what happens if siblings don't know? #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@Children_Law ...needs to be part of good adoption support#adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@Children_Law most prep groups raise these-hard thing is dealing with reality&changing need for info as they grow older#adoptfosterchat

@PottiJo
Thats so essential @BAAFAdoption Info needs to be age-appropriate, but v important they know full facts #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@ins_foundations cuz of the internet/ability to access info, adopters are worried hence spike in those changing childs name#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Using Social Networking Sites to Make Contact with Birth Relatives:bit.ly/p8FLvc #adoptfosterchat

@harryandrews
only that some names are more unusual than others (deffo in our case) and it (arbitrarily) puts us at the mercy of google#adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
As long as there is proper support - reading about why you had to be adopted will be pretty grim reading for some. #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
But what is point of letterbox contact once or twice a year? Seems a sop. #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@Familoo I totally agree with the proper/real info being read for child when older. That would be massive step forward #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Info needs to be age-appropriate, but v important they know full facts #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@ins_foundations @AdoptResources Us too. Eldest 20, middle 16, youngest 12. Tempted to let eldest & our 16 to have emails#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @Familoo: As children get older they need REAL info re adoption- judgments & nonjargon summaries shld be kept & ready#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@SVPhillimore Letterbox contact&openness has bn arnd4some time-now need2ensure ppl are prepard/informed abt social ntwrking#adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
I query need for immense amount of detail - shocked by recent doc and what was in young child's Life Story Book #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
issues of openness, contact, identification etc may well put off adopters #adoptfosterchat

@ins_foundations
@harryandrews @BAAFAdoption The name change issue has really changed in my area, its becoming very common again#adoptfosterchat

@spursblogger
@svphillimore again, big problem. Some potential adopters v worried about this #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@BAAFAdoption @harryandrews @Jags_Catering I think name change is difficult-crucial part of identity #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@SVPhillimore this is the issue. I dont know what is right or wrong but I think adopters want the child to be 'their child' #adoptfosterchat

@ins_foundations
@AdoptResources Sibs difficult for us too. They have direct contact, but age gap of 5 yrs between eldest and youngest #adoptfosterchat

@spursblogger
@baafadoption @Children_Law hard to maintain any control over this process. As you say, new challenges overturning practice#adoptfosterchat

@Familoo
As children get older they need REAL info re what has led to adoption- judgments & nonjargon summaries shld be kept & ready#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @MiddleAgedCred: @Jags_Catering @harryandrews changing birth name is a v emotive subject.Part of the child's identity#adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
Will more openness 'put off' adopters? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Familoo Absolutely! #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
Very true & give support to do this RT @BAAFAdoption Important that their is open communication between adopters children#adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
@harryandrews adoption application form has space for 'new name' which prospective adopters often use for fear of tracing#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @Jags_Catering: @harryandrews @baafadoption #adoptfosterchat I hate fact I have a different name wad born Paul-my identity was changed.

@Familoo
@harryandrews @BAAFAdoption for me it's about acknowledging the inevitable & proactively preparing & informing adopted kids#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@harryandrews V difficult - it's been raised and is topical#adoptfosterchat

@harryandrews
@BAAFAdoption do you think we'll go back to the old practice of changing children's names at time of adoption? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Children_Law Important that their is open communication between adopters and their children #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
issues w siblings make contact tricky for us-indirect for now but can see direct might be right at somepoint #adoptfosterchat@Children_Law

@Children_Law
@BAAFAdoption and also I think v. difficult for the adopters who then will start to have less of a grip on the situation. #adoptfosterchat

17h BAAF @BAAFAdoption
@SVPhillimore @Jags_Catering Contact Local Authority or head here for more advice/info: bit.ly/yU5Pzb #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@Children_Law Agreed to certain extent as long as child is able to talk through with someone supportive if it's emotional#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@ins_foundations Contact not often straightforward - more to consider here: bit.ly/p8FLvc Hope you have some support#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Children_Law Also adopted people may not be aware of circumstances surrounding their adoption #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@BAAFAdoption @Jags_Catering how do you contact a suitable intermediary? (I should know this) #adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
... and it is not recommended to be in the interests of the child to have contact with birth family. Really difficult stuff #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@MiddleAgedCred Difficult if she's keen - not always easy with teenagers #adoptfosterchat

@louise_dorman
@BAAFAdoption I had letters & original records for 2 years. So I could have contacted her! But I needed it structured#adoptfosterchat

@ins_foundations
@BAAFAdoption I found my childrens birth mother on facebook and not sure if its a good thing or not! Lots of pros and cons#adoptfosterchat

@Children_Law
I think children using social media to try & find birth family is ok if that is their wish. Prob is the other way around #adoptfosterchat

@spursblogger
Good evening, hope this evening's #adoptfosterchat goes well

@MiddleAgedCred
@BAAFAdoption Thank you. Advisory service feel once you have that level of contact Obv can't go back but kids really keen#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @Jags_Catering: @MiddleAgedCred @baafadoption I agree - there is no way of cutting if it goes wrong. #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@MiddleAgedCred Don't worry - we still found it! #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Jags_Catering Intermediaries can help people think about the issues #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@BAAFAdoption Think my first tweet had a misspelt hash tag :-S#adopfosterchat #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@Jags_Catering glad it was a good response #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
RT @Jags_Catering: @BAAFAdoption @svphillimore #adoptfosterchat I didn't with my birth father and it was a NIGhTMARE !

@BAAFAdoption
@louise_dorman Are you glad you did it this way? #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@MiddleAgedCred Important to make sure implications are considered #adoptfosterchat

@Jags_Catering
@ins_foundations @baafadoption #adoptfosterchat There is good coverage at the adopt resource site and of course BAAF

@louise_dorman
I contacted my birth mother through the agency my adoption was organised #transatlanticbaby #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
@BAAFAdoption @jags_catering I have no personal interest but a lot of professional interest (am lawyer) #adoptfosterchat

@MiddleAgedCred
@BAAFAdoption Thinking of letting them be in touch by email (16 yo with older sister) but advisory service think unwise #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Jags_Catering @SVPhillimore Are you (both) glad you used an intermediary? #adoptfosterchat

@ins_foundations
@BAAFAdoption I have no direct experience but interesting to hear from others #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Some tips around online search & reunion and keeping yourself safe:bit.ly/p8FLvc #adoptfosterchat

@Jags_Catering
@SVPhillimore #adoptfosterchat Social worker rang my birth mother and asked if she was interested in getting in touch- she had been waiting

@ins_foundations
@BAAFAdoption Hi i'm in! #adoptfosterchat

@Jags_Catering
@BAAFAdoption #adoptfosterchat I searched for my birth mothers name she popped up in one minute with phone number but I didn't ring !

@BAAFAdoption
It's good to be able to find people online but another thing making contact #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
V sensible. RT @Jags_Catering: @BAAFAdoption too easy too quick so I used a social work as an intermediary. #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
Interested to know how you first made contact #adoptfosterchat

@AdoptResources
@miss_smidge @pottijo hope you got some good answers on the forum... @BAAFAdoption #adoptfosterchat is on reunion tonite...

@Jags_Catering
@BAAFAdoption too easy too quick so I used a social work as an intermediary. #adoptfosterchat

@SVPhillimore
Hello I am at #adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
@Jags_Catering HOw was it? How did you go about it?#adoptfosterchat

@BAAFAdoption
Anyone had any experience of making contact with birth relatives online? How did it go? #adoptfosterchat

@Jags_Catering
@BAAFAdoption #adoptfosterchat we both traced our family - I did it online

@BAAFAdoption
Please be sure to add #adoptfosterchat to your tweets so that others can follow the discussion

@BAAFAdoption
Welcome to the first #adoptfosterchat of 2012! We are joined by BAAF’s search & reunion expert, Julia Feast

@Jags_Catering
@bethedwardsuk @mum3fi if you are there it is #adoptfosterchat now

@BAAFAdoption
@Jags_Catering We'll be joining you in 7 mins! #adoptfosterchat

@Jags_Catering
@BAAFAdoption who is here for #adoptfosterchat ?

@BAAFAdoption
An hour to go until #adoptfosterchat!

@Children_Law
@SVPhillimore @familoo I actually managed to sort myself out with TweetDeck and I am ready for #adoptfosterchat (separate column) now.

For more info and advice about search and reunion, visit the ASR website: http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk






Monday, 23 January 2012

A letter to our future child...

(c) Lea Shariff
For Cate and Ben 2012 is the year they plan to start their journey to parenthood. After years of fertility problems they have decided adoption is the route for them. Cate shares with us a letter she has written to her future child.

We haven't met yet, and it may be many years before we do. But I'm a patient person. I like to think that when we do meet we'll know that we're the right match. I hear people say that. I don't know if it's really true. I hope it is.

I keep imagining you in our lives. I can't wait to introduce you to your new grandparents. They're a bit nervous at the moment but I'm sure they will love you when they meet you. I also want to show you the places and things I loved when I was a child. Searching for pebbles in the sunshine on Brighton Beach, having picnics in the wind on the Yorkshire Moors. We'll find new things to do too, and they'll be our things. Memories that you'll have and cherish as you grow in to an adult.

And I look at your room. The room we set aside for our child that has stood empty for so long. It's full of empty boxes right now, and we dry our clothes in there. But I know one day we'll clear those boxes out and start decorating. I imagine us shopping together and choosing new curtains and bed sheets. I know how important that was for me when I was a child, to be able to pick how my room was going to look. I want to give you that opportunity too, so you feel like you belong.

I also imagine your naughty times. When you've done something you shouldn't have. Maybe we'll fight and retreat to our own rooms angry and tearful. Then we'll make up again. We'll hug, there may be more tears, and we'll both make promises to try and consider each other's feelings more in the future.

At times when I think of you my heart aches, because I know your journey in coming to us has been full of pain. After the sadness I feel anger. But as I don't know you, or your birth parents so I don't really have the right to criticise. I know nothing about either of you.

One day we will meet and maybe I'll realise that all I imagined was wrong. Our lives will play out in a completely different way to what I expected. But I'm ready for that too. As much as I think about you I try to think nothing about you too.

For more information and advice about adoption, please visit the BAAF website: http://www.baaf.org.uk






Monday, 16 January 2012

Will 2012 be the year you start tracing birth relatives?

(c) E01
New year – it's a time for brushing away the cobwebs from the past and looking forward to the new. Maybe a new job, new healthy you, new start to your life.

It seems inevitable that at this time of year some adopted people may start to think about tracing birth relatives. People have all sorts of reasons for doing this: maybe you want to chase away some old ghosts; feel a part of you is missing; or you’re just curious about your origins.

If you are an adopted person and have been thinking 2012 will be your year to start searching, then here's some handy tips to get you started.

Motivation
The reason people decide to trace can vary enormously. It can be helpful to think carefully about what you want to achieve. Do you want to complete your family tree, or are there some events from the past you want to know more about? It can sometimes be hard to express your feelings. Talking to a friend or an adoption advisor is helpful in getting your thoughts clear and thinking about some of the issues involved.

Be prepared
Most searches and reunions have a positive outcome. Welcomed and happy reunions can be exciting and consuming. Many people describe tracing birth relatives as an emotional roller-coaster. For some it gives a sense of satisfaction that they finally know. Others may find out things they weren't expecting, which can be challenging and unsettling. It's important that you prepare for all potential outcomes the positive as well as the negative, for example finding out the people you are searching for have died. It’s important to consider that you and your birth relatives may have led very different lives, and possibly may have little in common. If you are just looking for information this may not be an issue, but if you are hoping to rekindle the lost years and build a relationship then you may be disappointed.

Be considerate
Be aware of the impact your search mayhave on other family members. You may bring up events from the past that some would rather have left forgotten. It’s important to respect the privacy of others and try and understand their perspective.

Get help
Many people have started using social networks, such as Facebook or Genes Reunited, when tracing birth relatives. While we understand the ease of using these platforms, we urge caution. They can deliver information quickly, but may not be the best way to reach out to someone you haven't had contact with for several years. Contacting birth relatives 'out of the blue' can be exciting but also unsettling and nerve racking. Instead, you should always consider the advantages of using an intermediary, details of which can be found on our website.

Look after yourself
Your search is likely to take you through many different emotions. Sometimes it might be frustrating, at other times rewarding. Make sure you have emotional support and start at a time and go at a pace that feels right for you. Whilst all people affected by an adoption reunion are likely to have a mixture of feelings about the event, that may alter over time. Remember it can take time to get it right and comfortable for everyone. Be patient and kind to yourself.

The Adoption, Search & Reunion website has a range of helpful tools to help you in your search, including advice on finding and using an intermediary, information on what documents you will need and how to get started. You may also be interested in watching the short video below about using social networks when tracing birth relatives.



For more information about search and reunion via Facebook, please visit the BAAF bookstore.

Join BAAF for a live Twitter Chat on the pros and cons of tracing birth relatives online Wednesday, January 25 (7-8pm).






Tuesday, 10 January 2012

How I felt when my birth family made contact

(c) Phae
As the new year begins, many people with an adoption connection consider tracing their birth relatives. Adoptive father Paul recalls the moment his birth family got in touch and explains the complexities of his relationships with both his birth and adoptive families.

When my mobile rang I remember that I was rather annoyed by the interruption - it had been a very busy day at work and I remember thinking that I could do without the disruption of my thought process; I looked at the number - withheld.

"Hello," I snapped and waited for a response that told me there was a person on the other end - after a pause,
"Ahhh, hello, is that Paul?"
"Yep." Australian accent on the other end. Must be an agent I remember thinking - as an IT Contractor I would sometimes get several phone calls a day.

"Hi Paul, my name is Kylie and there isn't any easy way of saying this, I am your sister". Hang on I thought, I don't have a sister called Kylie, in fact, I have no relations in Australia.

I was born in Northern Ireland in the Seventies, I'm the eldest son and always knew I was adopted - I never thought of tracing my birth family. I was brought up with my brother and sister, who are also adopted, in what many would consider an idyllic family home.

"Sorry, I think you have the wrong number," I said, "I don't have an Australian sister" - 17th of September, not April 1st, I thought.
"No, not one but two - you are adopted right?" This conversation was going in a different direction and one I certainly hadn't foreseen.

"Yeah, I am..." – I had always felt a bit special because of it.

"Well, your Mother and Father gave you up for adoption in Northern Ireland and together, they emigrated to Australia; got married and some years later had me and my sister, we are related, we have the same parents."

And so I found out, this was the way it happened - I had two full sisters, a birth mother and father who were still together and who all lived in Australia. To this day my Dad apologises for giving them my mobile number, he panicked he said, when they phoned the family home and asked for it – I think I would have done the same if it had been me.

The relationship went on to be a difficult one, I didn't really have anything in common with them other than heritage and I didn't feel that they had considered my feelings when they contacted me; nobody asked me if it was OK. In a few days I got a photo and remember thinking that I didn't look anything like them, whereas my girlfriend, now my wife, met my adopted Mum and Dad in a busy Dublin hotel foyer and spotted them before I did. "You’re like them," she told me later, "I just knew it was them." I guess people grow alike.

Eventually it was OK. We have a relationship now which works for all but not before a period of no contact (over a year) - they were not able to deal with the guilt of giving me up all those years ago.

When my wife and I began the adoption process for ourselves, this time as parents, I contacted my birth family because I didn't like the way things had been left between us. They are now Nan and Pops to our wonderful little girl, but they will never be my parents, I already have the best Mum and Dad this proud parent could ever have wished for.

BAAF's search & reunion expert Julia Feast adds: "Paul’s account of the being contacted ‘out of the blue’ really highlights why it is so important to make that initial contact through an intermediary so that people are not put on the spot and have time to consider how they want to respond. When contact is welcomed, either initiated by the adopted adult or a birth relative, good, satisfying and long lasting relationships can develop, without affecting the strength of feeling the adopted person has for their mum and dad.

"As with any relationship, renewed relationships with birth family members are likely to have their ups and downs. It is important to work through these and address any issues that arise to ensure that the contact meets everyone’s needs." 
For more info, visit: http://www.adoptionsearchreunion.org.uk/contact/reunions/

The British Association for Adoption & Fostering (BAAF) is urging the Government to undertake a full consultation exercise with relevant agencies over a Parliamentary Committee’s recommendation to abolish the Edited Electoral Register (EER). Read more on the BAAF website.

Join BAAF for a live Twitter Chat on the pros and cons of tracing birth relatives online Wednesday, January 25 (7-8pm).






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