I’m dedicating this blog entry to “A”, whom I greatly respect and admire for her courage and strength. I wish her all the best, as always.
I think I can safely say that the best thing about being part of an online community (whether that’s on a forum, or on Twitter, or blogging) is the support and friendship that you give and receive. I always try and give as much support as I can at the time, to whomever asks me for it, and I have always found that whenever I need a hand hold, kind words or advice, there are people giving me support. Most of the people I talk with are other adoptive parents, and sometimes adoptees, lawyers, social workers etc. However, I feel priveleged to have also been able to talk with several birth mums in the last few years.
Every mother I have talked to has made a big impression on me, but I think “A” was the first mum to really open my eyes and give me a new perspective.
“A” has a child, “B”, and at this time, “B” was in foster care. Whilst “A” was obviously desperate to have her child returned to her care, and fighting for it, she was also facing the possibility that she might not succeed, in which case “B” would be adopted. That prospect was only made worse and more confusing, by the fact that “A” really didn’t know much about adoption, or how it would work for her and her child. What kind of people would adopt her child? How would they make up their minds to adopt “B” instead of another child? What were her options for contact, what exactly was normal? Could it be that her child might never be told they were adopted? And would her beloved child be told that their birth mum loved them? That was very important to her.
These are far from the only questions I have been asked, or seen being asked. But “A” was the woman who opened my eyes to how little many families know about adoption, and how little they are told by professionals. This is all information that is freely available online if you know where to find it, but I see no reason why a family should have to do that instead of just being told the answers to such simple questions as “do adoptive parents get paid to adopt?” or “how do I know that the people adopting my child have been assessed properly, how does the assessment even work?”
“A” chose to ask some adoptive parents her questions, which to this day I think was a brave thing to do. She didn’t know us, or what we would think of her, whether we would judge her or whether we would help her. We were just random strangers on the internet.
And so I read “A”‘s questions and saw her confusion and her love for her child which shone through her writing, and I cried for a start, but I certainly did my best to support her by giving her answers to all her adoption related questions.
Now, I can say that in the end, she succceeded in having her child returned to her, which I was utterly thrilled to hear. But there are of course several thousand adoptions a year, which likely means a lot of unanswered questions for birth families. I think this is something which could be improved – it can only help if there is more correct information out there for families. I would never want a family to be left thinking that adoptive parents pay to have whatever baby they want, or that anyone could get approved to be an adoptive parent in two weeks flat, or that adoptive parents only adopt because they want “accessories” and don’t treat children well. And yet, I see this happening. I see people (who aren’t even parents/grandparents/family members themselves) telling distressed mothers and grandparents these totally untrue things, and it makes me angry. I’m glad “A” never encountered these little nuggets of distressing misinformation.
“A” told me that by answering her questions and by supporting her, we had helped her. I never really felt I deserved the thanks she gave me, for doing something which I would have done for anyone in her position. But, by having my eyes opened to how confusing the adoption process must be for a lot of families, I resolved that I would try to do something for other mothers like “A”.
I wondered how much my children’s birth parents knew about adoption? Kestrel and Parrot’s birth mum told me after meeting me that she was pleased I was going to be the one to adopt Kestrel. We hugged, we cried. Now I wonder whether she knew how thoroughly I had been vetted? I doubt it. But what a bigger leap of faith it is to try and support (not oppose) your childs adoption when you don’t even know how the new mother was assessed, when adoption is something you really know almost nothing about.
I believe that a bit more dialogue between adoptive families and birth families can only be helpful. A bit more support can only be helpful. If I can help one more “A” get some answers to their adoption questions, that can only help.
So, finally after a bit of work, I compiled a list of questions I had been asked not only by “A” but by other mothers, and things I had seen being asked online, and I wrote out answers to those questions. It’s now online at http://www.childprotectionresource.org.uk/answering-birth-parents-questions-about-adoption/
If it helps even one more family member out there, I will be very happy. It’s something I wish would have been there for “A”, for Kestrel and Parrot’s birth mum, and for the other birth mum’s I have spoken to.
Anyone can comment on CPResource posts, so I’m sure another adoptive parent input to answer questions or provide an alternative spin on my answers would be helpful and it would certainly be welcomed by the site administration.
If you have a child who is being adopted (or a grandchild, sibling, cousin etc.) and you have a question about adoption and you think I might be able to answer it, please do comment on the site piece I wrote. I will do my very best to give you an answer.
My best wishes to all