Tuesday, 11 October 2011

The highs and lows of adopting a sibling group

Today on the blog we hear from adoptive father Al, who, in the run-up to National Adoption Week, describes the highs and lows of adopting five children.

When I was asked to write a blog it was suggested that I wrote something ‘upbeat’. That posed a little dilemma, I’m not sure I can be exclusively upbeat. I’ve decided to aim for honest and others can decide if I’m being upbeat or downbeat, more than likely I’ll hit somewhere in between. The reality is that like most things in life, adoption stories have a little bit of everything.

It sounds like a cliché to say that adoption is the hardest thing that I’ve ever done. To be honest, I can’t help thinking that if I’d had birth children I would probably consider that the hardest thing I’ve ever done. So, no great surprises there.

So what’s the big deal?

Every adoption is unique, talk to ten adopters and you’ll have ten vastly different stories. My story is normal in that it’s twisty turny, with ups and downs, highs and lows. I didn’t mind the assessment process. I quite enjoyed talking about myself and getting my friends to talk about me. I’m probably an extrovert.

The panel was a bit scary. They couldn’t understand why we’d be daft enough to ask to be approved to adopt up to three children. With hindsight, I agree however they eventually approved us.

Not long later three children moved in and we went into shock. I’m not sure any training would have prepared us for such an onslaught. A subtle blend of enthusiasm, blind optimism and youthful exuberance got us through. A little faith and the fact that the three children we adopted were wonderful helped us through a few teething problems.

So things went well, so well a few years later we were asked to adopt two little girls. That’s another story, needless to say it was not without its ups and downs. So, turn the clock forward and we now have five children.

By ordinary standards my family is not normal we’re noisy messy and a theme park family ticket just doesn’t cut the mustard anymore.

Early life experiences have taken a toll to varying degrees on some of my children. I’ve been bitten ‘til I’ve bled by a four year old; called names that would make a pirate blush by a six year old and been thoroughly abused all in the name of parenting. Their experiences cast shadows, some long and some short, in their young lives. Yes, as adoptive parents, we have unique worries and concerns but we’d be foolish to think we have the monopoly on strife and trouble with our children. All parents worry.

I love my children, they’ve lived though experiences I can only imagine and my heart swells when I think of all they’ve been through. Having the honour and privilege of parenting my children is perhaps the most defining experience of my life. I can thoroughly recommend it.

Are you considering adoption? Head to the BAAF website for more information and advice. If you'd like to share you story on our blog, email press@baaf.org.uk

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