A few weeks ago I wrote a blog entitled ‘Siblings? Age ranges?’ inspired by WASO, the Weekly Adoption Shout Out. This, for people who don’t know, is a support network of people who blog about adoption. Along with a lot of helpful comments (for which I’m thankful) I discovered that someone had linked my blog post to two of their own blogs. Being new to the blogging world I was intrigued. It didn’t take a lot to work out from the tags they had included it under that they had perceived a single sentence I had written negatively (‘adoptee socialisation’, ‘adoptees need to fit in’, ‘adopter entitlement’, ‘adoptee abuse’). From one of these blogs I discovered this person also took this one sentence and then tweeted it out of context and encouraged others to retweet it, obviously to invite negative comment – which of course they got – including the opinion that I should never be allowed to adopt at all.
More shockingly after reading other posts attached to WASO over the last couple of weeks it became evident that the blogger is actually someone who posts regularly, albeit with a different blog name, as part of WASO. This has upset me greatly as I thought the whole point of WASO was support, not to use what is written there to try to run people down, even if you use a blog you don’t connect up with WASO to do it.
People who are thinking about adopting have so many thoughts and emotions going through their heads. Will I be able to cope? Will the social workers think I have a chance in hell of being a good parent? Will the children I adopt, if I’m allowed, be happy? Do I have the skills needed to help them feel secure? Will I give be able to give them a good future? Will I be able to help them flourish and succeed at life? Will the adoption break down? Will I break down? And so on and so on to fade. Yes, because they don’t know the child/ren yet a lot of the thoughts are about themselves, but not exclusively, and more often than not with the future child’s interests at heart. The over-riding questions for me right now though is ‘am I good enough?’ and ‘do I really think I can do this?’
To take one sentence I’ve written and use it to imply how people who want to adopt see themselves as ‘entitled’ or who want perfect children to ‘fit in’ with their lives – and therefore should never be allowed to adopt a child – is unfair and upsetting. Particularly, as I stated, I thought WASO, which is where the blogger found the post, was a place to find but also to offer support and help.
The sentence that seems so dreadful out of context was this: ‘It now feels important that the child/children I adopt fit in (as far as they can) with my wider family, nephews included, and friends’. But my point, if you read the sentence in the context of the blog, was actually this – far from thinking I’m entitled or thinking just of myself, or expecting my adopted child/children to be pressurised to toe-the-line, quite the reverse was going on. As the next sentence stated actually I was thinking of the child/ren and what a welcome they would receive by my family – what support they would get – even from my nephews who are currently only 4 and 2 years old. The way my nephews would relate to a ten year old cousin, for example, would be very different from how they might relate to one of a similar age who they would essentially grow up with and might be able to support along the way. The point was that I want my whole wider family and friends and their children, to play a part in making the child/ren feel welcomed, loved and secure. And that actually ages and how many children would play a part in how that might work. Thinking these things through won’t ensure a child will feel welcomed, loved and secure, but it might just be a place to start. Just agreeing to any age group or any amount of children with any given needs certainly won’t give a child the family they deserve. It wasn’t at all about the child playing a part, or expecting them to be someone they aren’t, or to just slot in and play happy families. It was actually the reverse: what part my family will play and what we as a whole can offer. May be ‘feel they fit in’, ‘gel with’, ‘feel a part of’, ‘attach to’ would have all been an attempt at a more accurate description of the meaning behind what I was trying to say than ‘fit in (as far as they can)’ but that is the problem with the written word – it never truly conveys everything we want it to.
Adoption doesn’t work out for everyone. I know this. I saw it play out growing up. Adoptions do break down. Children/young people can be left more wounded and traumatised than before. But for some they do work out. And if I’m allowed to adopt, I want to do everything I can to make sure that adoption is the most positive experience it can be for the child/ren placed in my care. So that they have the potential of a good future and are allowed to be themselves (whoever that turns out to be), in the most secure, loving and supportive environment that it is possible for me to provide. And no, I’m not expecting their adoption to wipe away their past, or heal their past trauma or hurts or make them into the perfect child but I do want it to have the best possible outcome for them. Thinking through issues such as these and working out what I and my wider family and friends can offer a child or children, to me, is an important part of this.
So don’t judge me, or my intentions, or my heart from just one sentence. I am going to carry on blogging and sharing my thoughts and experiences, however ill written or incomplete, even if some people who come across my blog do find the odd sentence here or there offensive, but it has made me think about linking up in the future and inviting comment if not everyone else linking up there has the same intention.