Friday 6 August 2021


As the parent of six children who have traversed the care system, tracking unique paths to it and through it  I feel like I can speak with a level of confidence in relation to a few things. 

I'm not an expert by experience and don't pretend to be but I can speak as a witness to what I've seen. 

There's few certainties when I consider my children's early lives and them now, the correlation between early adversity and trauma, short, medium and long term effects is frankly really complicated. There are few straight lines between cause and effect but I can talk about risk and the influences on risk.

The interplay of the myriad of factors such as age when an adopted child experiences adversity, length and intensity of exposure, the nature of the adversity, the nature and relationship of the perpetrator or perpetrators, the passage into care, the proceedings and logistics therein, the mitigating factors such as the child's personality and character, the length of time in care vs number of moves in care, biology, genes, pre birth experience.........I could go on but it demonstrates the complexity.  

Adversity may not equal trauma. Or it may. 

Added to that dare I suggest the environment they then find themselves in once adopted, empathic informed parents in supportive education environments will surely skew the risks again. Un empathic parents struggling with behaviour will have another impact on risks.

This was all provoked by a question on social media asking if all adopted children will experience mental ill health. An avalanche of responses ensued with lots of certainties expressed, people with lived experience speaking in certain terms countered by people with lived experience that was the exact opposite. Those who's second cousins best friend knew an adoptee that's fine and never even had a grumpy day, countered by someone else who knew someone else whose life was blighted. All trying to find some sort of certainty.

It's was a madness of anecdote, self taught certainty, wisdom, knowledge, passion, anger and all the usual social media comment frenzy. 

I look at my, remarkable, children who have overcome unfathomable adversity and they cannot be reduced to a simple equation,  A + B does not equal C. Adoption + Child = Mental Ill Health, it's much more complicated than that. 

However, there's enough stigma and mythologies around children who've come through the care system and into adoption that we can scrap the inevitability of doom narrative as a starting point.  

The madness of social media is that it thrives in the frenzy of absolutes and that's the crux of of this post.
After 20 years parenting in this world is my absolute belief that there are no absolutes other than all adopted children have experienced adversity. Beyond that is...............well uncertain. 

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