My daughter Rhea has contributed her thoughts to posts in the past, as whilst she could not write a blog herself, she wants her experience to be out there and maybe help inform and encourage people. However, we have never co-authored a post before, and this has been a good, if difficult because of the subject matter, experience.
I write in standard or standard italic font, my daughter Rhea writes in bold, or bolded italic font. Her words are her own, she wrote it all herself, with a bit of spelling help from afar (I wasn’t permitted to read until we had the finished product, then I added all my writing in around hers. I have not edited her writing except to exchange my own first name for my online pseudonym, ‘Wren’
- Please be warned that, whilst there is no detail given, my daughter and I are talking about sexual abuse today, and if that would be someting difficult for you to read, you may wish to skip this one. As I said, we do not go into any detail about it. My daughter goes into minor details of physical abuse and neglect in this post.
This is a post about ‘barriers’ (gay couples in the UK have only been able to adopt jointly in the last 10 years) and why it is SO important that they have been overcome
This is a post for National Adoption Week, because finding waiting children the right family for them is so important in adoption, because celebrating the good that adoption by gay people can bring to a childs life is also a part of NAW and because my daughter wants to tell her story on the most important public week for adoption in the year!
A tiny dedication:
For National Adoption Week, for adoptive parents everywhere, for gay parents everywhere, for all the waiting children who have no forever home, and especially for those waiting for a gay parent/s, for every child adopted by their loving gay parents…..and for my children
All my proud, fierce, unending, to-the-ends-of-the-universe-and-back maternal love, deep gratitude, and pride goes to my eldest daugher. My darling, thank you for being willing to write this, for being willing to (anonymously) share a little of yourself and inner thoughts, and take a stand for something you believe in
I wrote this for my mum because she made my whole world safe and she makes my whole world safe today as well. My husband does as well! Also I really want every child to get adopted and not be in care for their whole childhood. So yeah this is dedicated to Wren
How my mum made everything safe
When I was little I was abused. I was sexually and physically abused and also me and my sister and brother were not fed often and we were very hungry. I was taken away by social services when i was 6, with my brother and sister. First we went to one foster home, then I was sent to a different foster home. The reason I was sent away is because I was so angry i think. I remeber hitting my foster carer and kicking her as well. I was really confused and angry and scared and upset. I wanted to go back home but I also was scared of home.
In my new foster home, there was a foster mother and a foster father. They were nice but I did not ever feel safe because of the foster father. He did not ever hurt me, he was a very nice person if I remember right. But I was sexually abused by multiple men so i was scared of all men except my uncle who was nice. I never felt safe because in my head i thought that one day my foster father would definitely come and hurt me and so i could not be calm or relax. I was very quiet and withdrawn. When I felt very anxious I would hit. I hit my foster father so that he would stay away from me and I feel guilty about that because like I said he was a very nice man. I did a lot of other things as well. I lived with the second foster home for more than a year but i did not ever love them. I did not really know how to love and i never had loved an adult before. But really, I did not feel safe and it is not possible to love if you do not feel safe
When i was 8 i was adopted. They were a married man and woman, who were very nice to me and brought me lots of toys and clothes and hugged me and they said to me that i was going to live with them forever. Things were okay at first because i was very quiet and i did not misbehave because i was scared and confused. I did not feel safe or ever love them. They made me feel scared because i hated seeing men and women kiss and hug and they were a huggy kissy couple. Not proper kisses just a peck on the cheek, but it still made me scared. I thought in my head that one day my adoptive dad would definitely come and abuse me. i did not sleep and had nightmares. I did not tell them about being abused because i did not trust them at all. And then my behaviour was so bad for a long time that they sent me back to care. I am pleased they sent me back. They were very nice people and they did not abuse me but i did not want to live with them.
I stayed with a foster carer who was a single woman. She was very nice and kind to me, she was also the first grown up who made me feel safe exept for my uncle and aunt who did not ever visit me in care. I did tell her a bit about being abused, I told her I was hit and whipped. I did not tell her about being sexually abused because i just could not tell anyone. It was very deep down in me
Later I found out from my mum Wren that everybody knew i was sexually abused because of my behaviour. My old adoptive parents were not told anything by social services but they guessed about it after a few months and my last foster mother said that she knew very quickly after i moved in. Wren said to me that it was really clear to her that i had been abused. My last foster mother and Wren both waited for me to tell them something in my time.
This is the main bit
When I became adopted by Wren, she told me she lived by herself and I asked her if she had a boyfriend and she said no she was single. She said she liked women anyway and she was a lesbian. I asked her about that and she showed me an old picture of her and a girlfriend and told me what lesbian means. I felt much happier because of that.
Because my mum is a lesbian, she made me feel safe. No men. We made a rule of no men in the house except when there is not a choice. It was her idea because she knew it would make me feel better because she knew i was scared of men.
My mum made my world safe. She protected me. A lot of that was because she listened to me and stuck up for me and did not push me and did not send me back no matter how horrible i was. But at first i felt safer because there was not a father around.
Sometimes I hear people saying horrid things about gay people and especially that gay people should not adopt children. It makes me really angry. I would not ever have felt safe with a married mum and dad. I really needed a lesbian mum or two mums. But I think some poeple do not care about people like me. They do not care that if i was not adopted by a gay mum i would have stayed in care till i grew up, and i do not think i would have got therapy in care. I think if I grew up in care then today I would be on drugs or in prison or something like that.
Because Wren made me feel safe i told her everything in the end. She also got me therapy and talked to me. My therapy really helped me to heal a bit. I also stopped being so scared of men and I learned that some people are really good. When I was a teenager i met my husband. It was very slow, he became my friend very slowly and then my best friend and then my boyfriend. He makes me feel safe. I love him. That is amazing because I was not able to love other people including my mum Wren till I was a teenager which is a long time for a child to not love people. We got married a few years ago and now we have two daughters.
There are still kids in care who have been abused and they need to be adopted. I want them to be adopted. Being adopted does not make anything go away and I can not believe my mum Wren put up with me sometimes so the adoptive parents should be very committed and also be very realistic about kids who are like what I was like.
Some of the abused kids need to have gay parents like me. That is why it is so important to have gay adoption. It is really vital for kids who are like I was. Now I am grown up I know I deserved to feel safe as well and i deserved to have a family
This is going to get a bit political and a bit passionate now
Did you hear my daughter? She rocks, by the way
I bet you’ve heard anti-gay adoption sentiment before. Maybe you’ve even expressed it yourself, I don’t know who will read this post. By the way, if you read our post title and thought ‘I dont think I agree with gay adoption because it’s against the Bible/all kids need a mother and a father/I am really concerned about the child being bullied/insert reason here and I am not anti waiting child, I want them all to be adopted’, then first off, I don’t hate you and I’m not going to spend this post railing at you or yelling. I’m passionate but not hateful. I’m clear and concerned and WE and especially SHE, are determined to get our perspective across
For my bit, I am going to focus on my daughers needs and the needs of kids like her. I do firmly believe that gay couples should (and of course in the UK and most US states, are) be allowed to put themselves forward for any waiting child, including waiting children who could be adopted by a married couple in theory, but THIS post is not about that gorgeous 1 year old with some minor issues who could be adopted into any family structure. This is about my daughter and kids like her.
Because in our society, the surivors of sexual abuse are largely silenced. Invisible. Ignored
My daughter is one of these silenced women and men
But why should her needs in light of her abuse, be ignored?
Children in the UK (and USA, I know I have quite a lot of US based readers) care system have not been removed for no reason. Sexual abuse is not a common reason for removal, but that’s because it’s very hard to detect. Whilst many of the waiting children in care who have survived sexual abuse would be okay to be adopted by a heterosexual couple (indeed, if they were abused by a woman, they may feel safer with men), some like my daughter really can’t live with a mum and dad. A single mum or two mums (or conversely a single dad or two dads if a child is uncomfortable around women due to physical/sexual/emotional abuse and neglect by their birth mother and other women) might be the ONLY sensible placement option.
Think about my daughter
She is one of the reasons why the fight to allow gay adoption rights (there has never been a ban on gay singles or one of a gay couple to adopt alone in the UK but gay couples could not adopt jointly until less than 10 years ago) is so important
It’s important because of rights, of course. Freedom. Equality. What beautiful words
But it’s also very important because of children like Rhea was. What about her needs?
Because she does not need a mother and a father. She needed a mum or two. There is no such thing as ‘every child in the world needs a mum and dad’. They don’t. Waiting children are a diverse group with very different needs and experiences, and our adoption system must be equipped to meet all these diverse needs. An adoption system which only permits straight human beings to adopt, is a flawed system which is not equipped to meet the needs of all its waiting childre. Unless we conveniently ingore the Rheas of this world of course. Which is very easy, lets face it, we’ve been doing it for nearly all of history.
Hey, if you’ve ever thought ‘I don’t agree with gay adoption’….read my daughters words. It’s hard to think about what she went through, even in it’s most abstract. But think about how terrified she was inside being made to live with a father she could not trust or feel safe around. hang on, which father are we talking about here? All of them, is the answer. Abusive father, foster dad, adoptive dad. She couldn’t trust or feel safe around any of them, regardless of whether they were child abusers or lovely people. She NEEDED a gay mum. There are quite a lot of waiting kids out there who either NEED gay parent/s or would be ideally placed with gay parent/s.
Anti-gay adoption = anti-waiting children, because:
It’s a movement to prevent children like Rhea finding a home, condemning them to grow up in care
To silence the needs of some abuse survivors, who cannot live with straight couples
And of course since there’s a national shortage of adoptive families it’s a movement to prevent other children finding homes, because there aren’t enough married couples wanting to adopt anyway.
Now, public opinion is now rooted firmly in favour of adoption by gay couples, but there are always the anti’s – Certain religious figureheads, politicians, people who come into regular contact with families which include gay parents (eg. teachers/doctors) and random members of the public with thankfully no power whatsoever
Don’t let the anti’s gain more ground. This is more important in the States, where some states still don’t permit joint adoption by gay couples. Fight them. Fight them with the knowledge and conviction that you are pro-waiting childen because you want ALL waiting children to be able to be adopted, including the ones for whom it is gay parents or nothing.
Isn’t ‘pro-childrens rights’ (including Rhea’s rights) a good thing to be?!
If you’ve made it the way tthrough this post, thank you!
Painting of mother holding child above – by Natalia Tejera, find at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/mother-and-daughter-natalia-tejera.html