Sunday, 27 May 2018

Adoption Misinformation

In the first heady weeks after the big three moved into our home I recall a friend noting with disbelief 

‘I just can’t understand why any parent would give three such beautiful children up for adoption’

Right there is when, what seems like, the unending explaining and clarifying began. Almost never a day passed without me having to reframe or give a full explanation of the current legal and social context of contemporary adoption and how as a nation we got here as well as noting the comparisons with the US system. Professionals, friends, teachers & relatives all seem to have half baked crackpot ideas at some point that I wade into and diplomatically correct their thinking.

So, today I read an article that spoke with some authority in a national publication that was utter rubbish, misinformed bilge*
It spoke of bureaucracy as a if it were merely a barrier to angelic adopters cracking on and getting what they want, orphans. It spoke of adoptees in terms of commodity, birth parents as inconveniences and statistics in terms of imaginary numbers that you can pluck from the sky. Process, assessment and checks a nonsense. What is hard is that it spoke with authority that it didn't have and assurance that it shouldn't have. It seemed to reinforce the worst of what adoption can be, entitled. It was a comment piece masquerading as fact, it was bad. 

Grrrrr. 


As I say I’ve spent the last 20 years trying to change the narrative, develop understanding and move away from the tired, outdated script about adoption. I’m sick of the grateful ‘Annie’, happy ever after, evil birth parent narrative. This claptrap knocks me back decades.



•Sorry took my ‘vanilla’ social worker hat off there. 

Friday, 25 May 2018

Adoption & Fostering Podcast - Adoption UK in Scotland FASD Conference May 2018

We were delighted to be invited by Adoption UK to attend their FASD conference in Scotland to record interviews with some of their speakers and attendees. FASD is an issue that is in most of our minds, and is becoming more and more recognised as an issue that affects families where children no longer live with their birth parents.




We speak to Dr Raja Mukherjee, UK FASD Expert and Lead Clinician UK National FASD Clinic, Neurodevelopmental Psychiatrist, Lee Harvey-Heath an adult diagnosed with FASD at the age of 26 years old and two parents who tell us their story about their journey to coming to terms with their children having FASD. Scott is joined by colleague, Alison Woodhead, Director of Public Affairs at Adoption UK for some of the interview, and we would like to thank Adoption UK for supporting this special edition of the podcast.


Thursday, 17 May 2018

Adoption: Pragmatic DNA

I'm really comfortable with the idea that adoption is second best, has pragmatic DNA and is fundamentally an issue held in a quandary that cannot be resolved.

For every article questioning the validity of adoption in the context of human rights, primal wounds, societal changes and austerity cuts to family support there is a counter argument that cannot be reconciled to that question. The argument being there are children that cannot and should not live with their parents or wider family under any circumstances including high levels of support and we all agree that the state is at not a great parent. Alternative parents do pretty well but want certainty and ownership so we have adoption. Perhaps ownership is too strong, perhaps.

That is a starting point. So, depending on your experience and political, religious, ethical and moral stance the pendulum swings to varying degrees to one or the other argument. That is reflected in the views of the minsters and the resources that are pumped into either side of the argument. It's reflected in the positions of the charities that support one or the other position. It's reflected in the paper you read, the bible verse you read and the documentaries you watch.

Both positions are right and neither is wrong. Come to my house and present your case for either position and I could shoot you down with hard facts and stories from each of my children's lives, academic research for the opposing position. There lies the rub. Adoption is not a binary issue.

Bear with me, I can't say it enough, it is not and it never will be a binary issue with a 'correct' position. It reflects the values, politics and perspectives of the society it's based in and it dates really badly. Look back 40 years at adoption practice and it's appalling. We'll look back in 40 years from now and be appalled.

I'm not sure that helps the adopters of the 55,000 UK children under 16 who inhabit the space between the two positions. The questioning or affirming articles and blogs appear with regular frequency and strike to the core of our family composition and DNA. Not always a nice feeling.

I know my children's story and it plays out this debate, a lack of intervention by the state layered over  terrible and inappropriate actions. Neither right but this is where we are, my naivety and, on reflection, dogmatic and blinkers perspectives at the beginning of my journey don't help me now.

Leaving adopters perspectives on these two view I'm even more convinced that the other deafeningly quiet voices of this adoption arrangement are equally disturbed by the two positions that ebb and flow.


As a society we've decided that we will have adoption but I believe we need to challenge every last bit of it every single day. Adopters, don't fall into lazy dogma push hard, fight back, reject the lazy narratives, be difficult and ask difficult questions. Be the change that adoption needs. Embrace the questions.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Roving

Hoodwinked is perhaps too strong a word, but I am feeling a little hoodwinked. Saying that raises the spectre of a tricky conversation that won't perhaps reflect that well on me.

I entered into the Adoption Contract in good faith, and this week I'm feeling a little hoodwinked as the dawning realisation of the enduring and lifelong challenge that is set before the good MrsC and I is revealed. Of course details can't be shared but I now see that my short to medium turn future remains fundamentally restrained and challenged in a way that my peers aren't experiencing. It's been a funny week, I've social worked a social worker, negotiated a truce, staved off financial disaster and spent the bank holiday roving the lanes of Northumberland like a cross between Liam Neeson in Taken and Basil Fawlty. So, I'm living out all my resilience theory and then some (see Rutter's thoughts on Steeling)

Of course, I took these children as my own to raise, love and cherish. And we've done that and as we would with a biological child, we've rolled with the punches, literally, stepped up to the challenge and done what we can and should like ever other parent that ever had children. There's no doubt that we'll continue to do so.

But dare I say it, 20 years on from my preparation group I can't help feel a little burned. Why? well I'm not sure. I'd change nothing and I love them dearly but I can't help feel that I've been a pretty cheap solution to some really complex problems. Ah, now that's something you can't say as it cast a pretty big question mark over my motivation and values. Well cast on, I'll show you my scars, physical and emotional, but it's true that I'm looking again at that Adoption Contract. The support I received withers' pretty quickly post 18 and I'm looking for solutions or answers that the system is not geared up to have.

The Adoption Contract  is that you take them as your own come what may? I'm cool with that. Well kind of cool, but I've no recollection of this level of adversity being laid out in plain English. Don't get me wrong, it's not all doom and gloom but we're literally the living case study for Selwyn's rule of thirds.

I'm always reluctant to fall into adoption moaner blog, but I find myself in uncharted territory. My friends raise their eyebrows and exhale when I talk to them. So be it. Roving






Friday, 11 May 2018

Fostering & Adoption Podcast - Episode 41 Suddenly Mummy, Scott and Al

This episode is a veritble buffet of adoption and fostering topics, conversation and thought. 
However, we don't miss the opportunity to interigate Becky on her personal life and draw conclusions from the slow down in her blogging output.

We discuss the thorny issue of how much is too much on social media and the challenges of under and oversharing as bloggers, tweeters and facebookers. 


We attemp to review a couple of books and have a brief, but informative, discussion on poetry. 

All You Need Is Love: Celebrating Families of All Shapes and Sizes by Shanni Collins

&

Life Work with Children Who are Fostered or Adopted by Joy Rees

                       


We then stumble into the much discussed topic of resilience and Al gets a little hot under the collar and then Scott makes a poem up!





Friday, 4 May 2018

Overspill

Anyway, I wasn't going to blog, I'm meant to be writing something clever about children and violent and aggressive behaviour. If the learned Dr W finds out I've been slacking there'll be hell to pay.

Anyway, its Friday night and I'm sat on a train and my head is trying to shuffle all the thoughts. I bumped into my friend and most excellent blogger @colourcarwen yesterday and she shuffled some for me and noted:

'how are you going to empty your bucket if you don't write a blog, :-P?'



She'd watched my resilience video. Fair point, physician heal thyself!

I've reached critical mass where I can't remember if I've blogged about all the things rattling around my head at some point in the past. I should be less obtuse when I name them. It would also be really helpful if I had an anonymous blog that I could spill all the strands of thought into and leave the slippery little blighters there. @colourcarwen knows I prefer to not actually talk to people.

So, here's a concise, non oppressive or judgemental run down of my mind, unedited and in no particular order.

  • Too much argy bargy on Twitter between people who are talking about different things culturally, historically, ethically, legally, nationally, morally but all under the banner adoption. We are not comparing like for like but we are using the same words and we are arguing about different things. Stop it. 
  • Voices, we need to weigh them. All of them and then see whether they're worth getting het up about. A opinions are valid but, sorry, I don't have to listen to them all. 
  • I'm not sorry
  • Your story is valid, however it may be similar to my story that doesn't let you talk for me. 
  • Kids, blimey.
  • Kids, blimey this is nothing to do with adoption, I'm bored of adoption, its just kids who've had a rough deal giving me a rough deal. (Can I say that?)
  • Oversharing on social media (see above)
  • I wish I had a really anonymous twitter account so I could really say what the hell is going on.(see above).
  • I really need a hobby that doesn't involve being a social worker, talking about social work/adoption, thinking or writing about social work slash/adoption
  • If it was up to me we'd all get access to good support that helps easily without any gip.
  • It's not up to me (see above)
  • Kids, what the hell!
  • I really must write that thing, I wonder if I'm clever enough?
  • Self doubt (see above)
  • Email, wow! I can't believe that was just said to me! I'm going to frame this and laugh one day
  • Is this an overshare?

I feel so much better for getting that off my mind.