Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Thinking about adoption? Stick with it!

In the run up to National Adoption Week, we hear from Helen, an adoptive mum of two, who offers her advice to those thinking about adopting.

When you get to the point at which you feel adoption is right for you, you can usually expect a maddening response from the people you tell. They suck their teeth, much like a plumber pricing up a job, and say, 'oooh, isn't it really horrible and difficult to get through?' Then it's, 'Training, why do you need training? Regular parents don’t need training.' Well, no they don't, and perhaps they should, but this is very different. Besides, they don't train you to be a parent they train you to understand what it feels like to be adopted.

My partner and I adopted two children two years ago and contrary to what the teeth-sucking, concerned well-wishers might tell you, we actually enjoyed the process. Genuinely. And we're not the only ones. Thousands of successful adopted families would agree it's a process worth going through. But who knows how many people are put off by the negative attitudes surrounding adoption and never go through with it.   

You know how parents will tell you they could lift a car from off their child or stop a train with their own body because they love them so much? So could I. I absolutely know I could do any of those things if something threatened my children and I cannot believe there are any other parents out there who love theirs one drop more than we love ours. But to get to this point as an adoptive parent you have to go through the process. It is a means to a very wonderful end and not something to dread or be defensive about it.

There are some aspects to the adoption process that can feel a bit uncomfortable. It can take a long time, longer than the average pregnancy certainly. It can be difficult answering questions about your life and who you are. It can be tense, constantly waiting for meetings to happen and for a panel date to be set. But you know what? So it should be. Social workers that are assessing people to be prospective adoptive parents have a job to do and they absolutely have to get it right. The children they are placing with forever families deserve to go to parents who have been thoroughly checked out and have thoroughly thought it through. We're the grown ups. We can take a bit of discomfort for the sake of children who have had a tumultuous time.

The next time someone tells you they are thinking of adopting, don't tell them how hard it can be. Tell them what a wonderful thing it is they're doing. And if you're about to go through it, stick with it. It might just be the best thing you ever do.

If you have an adoption connection and would like to tell your story on our blog, email us at press@baaf.org.uk and let us know. If you'd like to get involved in National Adoption Week, why not enter our film competition?

1 comment:

Simon Baker said...

Thank you for the injection of positivity into the process and having completed the initial training, I can definitely concur that it feels strange to be taught how to be a parent and what it feels like to be adopted. We had an enjoyable time going through the sessions and learnt a lot. However since this was completed (almost two years), we have had little to no contact with Social Services. Unfortunately we fall within Kent Social Services who are already under investigation for their terrible results in getting children placed. It does seem to be a vicious circle that there is no money to train new Social Workers as too much is being paid to look after children in their care but without new Social Workers, these children will stay with foster families.
It is difficult to stay positive in such circumstances but we will continue to wait for our 'turn' and hopefully get the end result that we both hope for.

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