It's 20 years to the week that we started introductions for my big three kids.
What I thought then and what I think now is almost non comparable, adoption was not what it is now and I feel that we've tracked the shifts in our family lives. I don't recall difficult questions or debates in relation to the purpose and ethics of adoption or consideration of human right. Of course, they may have been there but I may not have had ears to hear.
I'm trying to listen now.
Sitting with my eldest we chatted about all of that stuff back then when she was a week off 6 years old. Her story and how it was seen then and how we all saw it now, our anxieties and failings. I concluded that we all dropped the ball for her and it all should have gone down differently. With regret I see that I didn't have the agency or oomf to speak up and on reflection I deferred to professional views, gave into my own preconceptions, was caught up in my own, and all of our, new lives together.
That nuanced stuff was put aside. Identity, connection, justice, family all seemed too abstract or complicated compared to the daily, minute by minute challenge of shifting the life of a 27 year old me into parenting. It seems like a pathetic excuse now, but then it seemed all consuming and I'd bought into the 'adoption is always a good thing' narrative and had no capacity to question it.
Now, 20 years to the week that we met, all that seems to matter is that nuanced stuff and that's the stuff that seemed invisible or on the periphery then.
If you ask any parent what they'd do differently there's likely to be a long list. In that regard we're no different as adopters. There's lots we did do differently the second and third time round. But you can't go back and undo what was done, hindsight is a swine.
The future of adoption is uncharted, we've been at low ebbs before, in 2000 we went to court and were one of only 2000 adoption orders made that year. Government ploughed money into adoption and the figures rose steadily to over 5000 in 2015 but now they're stagnating again and without the underpinning of cash and policy I'm not sure what the future holds.
How we care for children remains a key question, how we hold the tensions in families where questionable decisions were made remains a significant question for many families that jumped onto this bus rout only to discover it wasn't perhaps the one we thought it was.
Hindsight really is a swine. It's likely I'd do it all differently but for pure selfish reasons glad I didn't.
If I could have got that younger me in a verbal headlock what advise would I offer?
Relax, buy shares in Apple, but for heaven's sake talk less and listen more.