Friday 21 February 2014

Let's call it a breakdown

Adoption breakdown is a phrase that is batted around the adoption community in hushed tones.
When I've heard of adoptions breaking down I've alway thought of the bravery of the adopters to make that call and say,

 'I can't do this any longer'.

As adoptive parents we have slogged through the process of approval, dancing to the right tune and jumping through the hoops. Proving again and again that we will make good parents that we have the right stuff.

So, for whatever reason, to then say actually, this can't go on, I can't do this...................

Well, I just thought that it took courage.

At various times I've questioned my capacity to parent, usually precipitated by Flossy. But while my focus was there a slow, quiet fracture was developing with Gracie.

Perhaps, more accurately the fracture was being revealed as it had always been there. But who knows and I'm resisting the temptation to re visit the ins and outs of the last 14 years.

It seems inappropriate to spill out the gory details of all that has happened for the interweb to pick through.

But  I can tell you how I feel & what I think.

(The ever vocal Mrs C has her own story to tell, so I'll not presume to reflect her thoughts here.)

As a family we have lived and breathed adoption from the moment we decided to apply. We heard of breakdowns on our prep course, anecdotally through friends of friends who knew someone. Sitting on  a panel, we received updates and notifications of occasional breakdowns.  The Narey Report  in 2011 quantified adoption breakdowns, shedding some interesting light on the figures and facts.

However, considering my own situation I am reluctant to use the phrase 'Adoption Breakdown'. As Gracie is not quite 18 the perhaps she will be included in these figures but I feel that they only tell part of the story.

But the day came and we could not continue. No shouting or screaming but we were no longer able to  parent her. It was very clear Gracie no longer could tolerate being parented.

I made that call and said 'we cannot and are unwilling to continue as we are'. It didn't feel brave, it felt like betrayal, like defeat, like relief.

Thankfully, Mrs C and I are of one voice and mind but we react differently with tears, doubt, disbelief, anger and worry. I'm sure emotions that every parent has felt for a child that has cut ties and walked their own path.

The wheels where set in motion, a Social Worker visited, foster carer identified, plans made and Gracie moved out.

When her Social Worker rang to say she was coming to collect her that day I sobbed.
Now, I'm not sure why I did as I'm spitting feathers now. But there is a dull ache in my heart that I can't quite resolve.

I find I have sat in every seat at the adoption table as my child is now in care.

We continue to love Gracie but there has been a breakdown, not an adoption breakdown, if you know what I mean. We're still mum, dad and daughter. Things are civil but not right.

We are fortunate that we have have several good friends that have walked a similar path and offer wise and sage counsel.

No funny story, no witty anecdote, just thought I'd let you know.


  1. MMm The thing is that this happens with Birth children too. The difference is that no SS are on the scene or usually not, but teen time is sometime a hard time as you try and discover who you are and why you are here and where you have come from and where you should go. One of mine decided that it was time to be grown up at 16 and left home to live with a girl friend. Actually so did lot of my pots and pans leave at the same time??? Then sometime later, this same young one decided that life 'out there' was quite hard work and moved back in, at the same time reprimanding us for being such bad parents letting her go... as if we had much choice.

  2. So sorry to hear this.
    I think it sounds very promising that you are both of the same mind. You will support each other through this time.
    Take care of yourselves.

  3. My heart in my mouth reading this.I think its a knife edge away from us all. I can send love and support and understanding. But my only words of 'wisdom' would be that the 'language' of this happening surely makes it feel worse - as is always the case in our world. Step away from the language of 'breakdowns' etc, and the official machine that has stepped in, and the situation becomes less loaded somehow. Much love. Mxxx

  4. We are still family and as you say "adoption breakdown" is such a loaded phrase, however we have to acknowledge that there has been a relationship fracture. Fortunately, we remain parents and she is happy to be called daughter, we think.
    As always, I/we appreciate your support.

  5. The relationship between my husband and adopted son became so strained that just prior to his 18th birthday my husband made the call to say he could no longer cope. Given his age, he was given emergency B&B accommodation. He has since found his birth family who have welcomed him into their large family. He is very happy but we are so sad.

    1. I can't imagine the heartache you must feel amongst the many other conflicted emotions. Regardless of before or after 18 makes no odds to your feeling of loss.