I’ve been reading my Twitter feed today feeling increasingly more shameful with each tweet I’ve read. This week is National Adoption Week. The national campaign is focused around the question, ‘Too old at four?’ but The Open Nest and The Adoption Social are focusing this week on adoptee voices instead.
I wonder what my eldest would say about her first year and three months of being adopted? I’m guessing that not much of it would be good and most of it can be linked to how I’ve been feeling.
Adoption was our way to have a family. We couldn’t have a birth child naturally so adoption is what we chose to do. But I keep forgetting that we chose it. Our children didn’t. My children didn’t ask for a new mummy and daddy. They had those. As far as they were concerned, they didn’t need anymore.
Our introductions began with us sitting in a planning meeting with four social workers, the foster carer and the girls. The girls sat in a meeting with us for 45 minutes and weren’t introduced to us or anyone else. During the meeting it transpired that the girls hadn’t been told about us or even the fact that they were being adopted. Nobody had explained to them that they would not be returning to their birth family. Nobody had explained why this was the case. Little was 17 months at the time, Big was 3 years and 2 months. 3 years and 2 months. And the explanation she eventually got was, ‘these people are going to take care of you now because you needed a new mummy and daddy.’ What does a 3 year old make of that. No explaining why this was the case. No gentle discussion beforehand about what she felt she wanted. Two strangers in a room with her, ‘There you go, there’s your new mummy and daddy.’
Big has so many reasons to do the things she does but I keep forgetting. I keep feeling sorry for myself. I keep feeling sorry that the dream I had for becoming a mum is nothing like the reality.
But, after reading Twitter this morning and reading tweets from people listening to adult adoptees and how they felt, I tried really hard to remember what I’ve been forgetting. They didn’t choose this.
I’m sure there will be (many) days that I forget this. But I am going to try to remember that.
I don’t know what I think National Adoption Week needs to focus on. Highlighting adult adoptee voices seems an excellent way to think about the future, it certainly made me think about ours as a family and the things I need to think about. People could argue that at 17 months and 3 years, our girls were too young to have a voice. I don’t agree. I think it was hugely detrimental not to include them, particularly our eldest. Their voices should have been heard.
I think for us, I wish that people had not tried to romanticise the idea of adoption. In the lives of our children, we are another move, another goodbye and I wish someone had emphasised that to me. To me I thought I was the end of their journey but I very quickly came to realise that I’m another traumatic piece of it. I wish people who could have told us more of the truth had done so. I was certainly completely unprepared for this journey. But then, so were my children.