Im so tired of being faced with people that believe ‘adoption fixes everything’. The looks of disbelief when I try and explain why something may be more difficult for my girls to manage, or the eye rolling when I suggest they may need some extra support through a tricky period, or the sighs of exasperation when I try and explain how their actions impact on my girls emotional well being or the lack of interest when I ask for someone to be mindful of their words/actions.
For example: Learning about ‘Family Tree’s’ can bring up all manner of issues, for a start it could leave the child wondering who they’re supposed to include in this family tree, which family? Topics about War and Famine, Deprivation and Loss, do I really need to explain why this might be tricky for some adopted children? seriously? Films like Annie, Despicable Me, Oliver, Rapunzel (there’s so many more) have themes along the lines of loss, abandonment and hardship and might not be appropriate for adopted children, films with ‘baddies’ can trigger those feelings of fear of the ‘bad people’ that they felt within birth family’s, NSPCC assemblies as great as they are can leave adopted children traumatised, frightened, reminded! Leavers assemblies can rekindle their own feelings of loss and abandonment, end of school year, in fact the end of anything has the ability to trigger those feelings. There’s more, so much more and each child is different, which is why its so important that adoptive parents are listened to and heard, because we know our children better than anyone.
Adoption does not and cannot wipe away over night the emotional and physical damage caused by years of trauma and neglect. Nor does it repair brain damage, reignite cognitive brain function or even miraculously cure delays in brain development.
I’m not saying that these things can never be improved, but I am saying moving a child to a new family and giving them an adoption certificate does not wipe their past, in fact, it makes things worse to begin with. To get that adoption certificate and that new family they have to loose everything, and I mean everything. Imagine your entire country being blown up and being the only survivor and having to move to a different country, alone, with nothing. Now imagine being only 4 when all this happened and imagine trying to make sense of it all and you may just begin to understand how that might feel, and that’s just the adoption part, what about all the devastating things that happened before they became adopted and the impact of all of that on their view of the world they live in, their veiw and lack of trust for the people that care for them and better still, their view of themselves. Its not pretty I can tell you!
So as well as unpicking and rewinding all the confusion caused by poor family life styles, neglect, physical and emotional abuse, there also needs to be Years and years of love, nurture, understanding and trust building and even then, sometimes its just not enough, sometimes the damage is too much for them to ever believe themselves worthy of love or even happiness or to ever be able to trust the people around them enough to live independently in society. Sometimes the damage is so great and so deep routed that it cannot be undone.
I believe that if people stopped judging, and instead worked together with parents, and stopped fighting them at every opportunity then things would get better for our children, the need for homeschooling for adopted children would reduce, the number of school statements for adopted children would reduce, school exclusions would also reduce and our children’s stress levels would be greatly reduced because they would have people around them that understood them and listened to them, which would mean a less likelihood of them requiring therapeutic interventions when they get older.
Raising an adopted child is hard enough without constantly having to explain and justify your actions to those entrusted with their care.
I’ll leave you with a few statistics (I’ve linked them to the sources), sadly because so far no one has thought it important enough to actually check how adopted kids are doing after they get their pretty little certificate there aren’t many, so I’ll also include some great resources.
Between 1 April 2000 and 1 July 2012, 565 children were known to have had a post-order adoption disruption.
Nearly two-thirds occurred during the secondary school years; children were on average 12.7 years when they left their families (range 1.7 years – 17 years).
The majority (57 per cent) of the disruptions occurred five or more years after the making of the Adoption Order.
“A short survey completed by 210 adoptive parents from the 13 LAs taking part in the study and by 180 Adoption UK members which asked how their adoptions were going revealed just over one-third reported few difficulties; around 30 per cent said life was good but they were facing challenges.
About a quarter of parents described major challenges with children who had multiple and overlapping difficulties. Many were struggling to get the right support in place. Parents reported that they were physically and mentally exhausted and that there had been a negative impact on marital and family relationship.
About 9 per cent of the young people had left their adoptive home under the age of 18 years (average age 14-15 years old).”