I'm pondering the upcoming National Adoption Week. With all the media coverage and hoopla that comes with it. I wonder how representative it is of contemporary adoption. More to the point I wonder how representative I am of contemporary adopters and how representative our family's experience is.
I wonder if we fit the acceptable narrative of the adoption story. Increasingly and for many years I don't accept the standard narrative as being standard at all.
Across the six children and three adults that make up our family we represent a range of experiences, the usual hat trick of Trauma, Loss and Separation; Child to Parent Violence, Social Service involvement, breakdowns and make ups. We've got shouting and fighting and laughing and loving. We've had unexpected Facebook family resurgence, incredibly positive birth family contact and some not so easy. We're like a walking case study.
Recently a young couple asked me for advice in relation to their plans and hopes to adopt. I can't recall what I said specifically at the time. It was probably encouraging, telling of the positives and trying to open their minds to the potential challenges. It feels like a well worn conversation.
But since then their question has rolled around my mind.
'We're thinking of adopting, what advice could you offer?'
I'm not sure what to say anymore. I don't feel jaded, negative or cynical about adoption, not at all. Sure, I have lots of questions that I struggle to answer about structures, ethics, process and power dynamics within the world of adoption. But I believe that children need secure, stable, loving and nurturing parents. Of course that can encompass a broad and diverse range of families/parents/children/beliefs/lifestyles. But fundamentally I believe in lives built on those core principles.
The more I know about adoption and the business behind it the more I feel that my knowledge is limited. I've sat on the adopter side of the triangle for so long that I realise that I know so little about the other two sides and the social care business that controls it all. I see that the voices of adoptees and birth families struggle to be heard and sometimes we struggle to listen to them as it provokes difficult questions. This is increasingly where I'm feeling the need to listen and this is where I'm learning the most. It's fantastic to see this being addressed by The Open Nest with their adoption week conference focusing on the voice of adoptees.
So, anyway, what advice would I offer.
I may not offer advice anymore. But I can tell you what I'm learning about the other voices and about my journey.