As adoptive parents we become aware of loss quickly. The process of adoption may or may not begin with personal loss but certainly the day somebody else’s child arrives in our home we are acutely aware of their loss. Sometimes we can feel it in their rigid bodies or see it in their eyes.
Even more naive and less prepared adopters understand that the challenges ahead will require parenting skills and nurturing above and beyond that which is usually required.
I believe adoptive parents are on the whole, big hearted, brave, resilient and good humoured people. We come to adoption for individual and varied reasons. With much mindfulness and faith we open our arms and hearts to children who very often cannot accept our love or trust us very easily.
Many of us have more empathy for a birth families loss than we are given credit for. This lack of credit for our emotional intelligence often extends to the way we are viewed by the professionals that “deal” with our children at school, in health services and social care. Sometimes sadly this even extends to our own wider families. It is still very difficult, despite years of public reporting, political rhetoric and charity awareness raising on the issues that adoptees may face, for those not immediately and directly involved to truly get “it”.
As well as awareness of birth families loss, adopters are highly aware of the loss of budgets to schools and mental health services. We are aware of the publics loss of faith in social workers and social workers loss of training and confidence in their authorities to back them fully.
We understand the loss to local authorities of adequate government fed resources to deliver quality services to those in need.
However, as adopters we need to be able to concentrate fully and exclusively on responding to our children’s individual loss and need without concerning ourselves too much with how difficult, expensive or time consuming it is for everyone else to deal with the issues of adoption or adopted children.
If you are parenting somebody else’s child who is traumatised, has development delay or was considered to be “hard to place” it is life changing. It truly is intensive care and there is rarely anything in the process of adoption assessment or preparation that actually prepares you for the enormity of the task.
I have been an adoptive parent in an open adoption and a long term therapeutic foster parent over many years. I have seen most sides of the care and adoption story. It has been confusing at times to consider the merits of foster care above adoption or adoption above local authority care. It’s a difficult balance to understand a birth parents feelings whilst taking part in healing their traumatised child.
The single most confusing issue I feel I have had to deal with is the astonishing and offensive disparity between professional discourse and inter agency spending to create discourse around adoption issues, and any enshrined duty to support and train adopters who are essentially the expert frontline workers for adoptees, regardless of the politics of the day.