When I was a little girl, I thought adoption meant that a child was chosen. I imagined a huge playground where hundreds of parent-less children played. A couple would come along and talk to the children and choose one to go home with them. Everyone would live happily ever after. Being so different from my siblings and not being treated the same, I often wondered if I had been adopted. But was confused; because I thought if a child was ‘chosen’, then they would have even more love than those who weren’t chosen. So I couldn’t have been adopted because I had no love at all from the woman they called my Mother. There must, I thought, in my child’s mind, be another reason.
So I made up a story, that a young couple arrived at our door and said they wanted their daughter back. They hadn’t been able to look after her when she was born but things had changed and they could now. That child was me. They took me home and I then had parents who loved and cared for me. It was just a dream, one made up to help me through the hardest of times.
So Adoption was in my mind, maybe in the wrong context and with the wrong beliefs but always there.
Little did I know that it would figure hugely in my life. As my readers of I DID TELL I DID or NOBODY TOLD ME know, I had lost a son to adoption when he was a baby. A mistake Social Services admitted; 22 years later, too late for me and for him. When Jack went to his new ‘parents’ they asked me for a letter or something they could give him when he was older and could understand. I wrote a long poem, pouring my heart out to this tiny babe I loved so much. I had dressed him in a blue suit and bootees that they promised to give him along with the little brown bear he grabbed as he was taken from me. I still have this tiny cuddly toy as my physical link to my son.They did none of this. Years later when I was reunited with Jack and I learned this, I felt betrayed, let down. I felt he deserved to know that I always loved him and never wanted him to go. I didn’t ‘give him away’. He was taken and I had no choice. This has done untold damage to Jack. So adoption for me was not a good thing.
After finding out that Jack had not had my promise to him kept, I did some work with Post Adoption. Giving talks from a birth mother’s perspective and saying how important the truth is and was for a child living in a family that he wasn’t born to.
I understand that people who are thinking of adopting and taking on someone else’s child, believe that they will keep the memory of that baby’s Mum alive and share it with the child at the right time. But I am now a realist. I know that promises are made and often not kept. As soon as the child is taken into the bosom of the new family, the last person those parents want to think of, is me. So they don’t. They make the child their own and I am forgotten. I do understand this but although it is right for them, it is not right for the child or the birth mum.
Every child has the right to know their birth family, parents and siblings. They need to know their roots, emotional and physical and adoptive parents should, in my opinion keep promises made, for the child’s sake. They should always tell the child that he or she is adopted and never say bad things about the birth parents. Even if the ‘bad things’ are true. No child wants to know that their Mum didn’t want them. Even on the rare occasion that this might be true, the child doesn’t need to know that. If he or she is brought up to be self-confident and if the adoptive parents share a close relationship with them, having been honest from the start, and he or she then decides to find their family, they will have no worries about this; being safe in the knowledge that the love between them and the child they brought up is strong. They could then support any journey the child makes to find who they are.
So Adoption played a huge part in my life in my twenties. I am in touch with Jack now and try hard not to be negative about the experience but we both know what he was and wasn’t told. This will always play on my mind.
In most cases Adoption is a joyous occasion for the new parents but not for the birth mum. Having said that, I do also, being a realist, understand that some children can’t, for one reason or another, grow up within their birth family. I still think links should be set up for this child and when and if possible, support should be there for them if they want to know more about their past.
A couple of years ago, Melissa who is a foster-mother, took in a tiny baby. A few days old. She fell in love as I had said she would and endeavoured to adopt this child. This was the year after the horrors that were Jade Wood and it was so good to have something happy after 2012, something good to look forward to. I wasn’t well but put my heart and soul into this adoption. Made plans for the future with the addition to our family. This little girl was going to go for adoption as her parents could not keep her. I did everything in my power to help this happen. I knew how she felt about his baby and I believed, having had her from a few days old, it was the right thing for both of them. I had hoped to be part of this new family member’s life. I did all the paperwork, the storyline of Melissa’s life as she couldn’t remember everything and Mums tend never to forget. It was an exciting time and so much to look forward to . She was on the phone sometimes several times a day. We were all so happy and she told me she couldn’t do it without me. I had to be interviewed as part of the adoption process and this also meant I had to promise to be her pivotal support, to be there for her if needed and obviously was happy to do this. But then things began to go wrong. Melissa was cross about something I had said about the way she was with one of her foster children. This escalated and I realised that she was changing towards me. I couldn’t make it out and suddenly, out of the blue she unfriended me on Facebook and blocked me. I was mortified. We had been so close. The following day I had the Adoption statement that I had to sign, saying that we had a close loving bond and that I would always be there for her in regards to the baby she was adopting. I was at a loss as to what to do. I felt the same but because of her actions, I knew for some reason , she didn’t. This statement meant that I would have to sign something that was untrue. She had shut me out of their lives and I couldn’t see how I could sign this statement. I spent many nights pacing the floor. I did not understand what had happened. We were all looking forward to this new addition and I wanted to be part of her life. I believed that as a birth mum, I could always put this baby’s mum’s point of view, if necessary, at some time in the future. Perhaps that was it. Perhaps Melissa was scared of this. I don’t know. I will never know but I couldn’t sign the form. I had grown up in a web of lies and made sure all my life that I would always tell the truth. That I wouldn’t under any condition, tell a lie. My husband has always said that sometimes my honesty backfires and hurts me. I think now that he is right. So I wrote and explained to the Adoption committee ,that we, my daughter and I, had had a falling out, I couldn’t tell them what had happened because in truth, I didn’t really understand what had happened myself. and said that I hoped it wouldn’t affect the adoption. The officer wrote back and understood and said it wouldn’t make a difference. I then wrote and told Melissa that I hadn’t signed. She never rang again and I have no contact.
So you see adoption has affected me all through my life and not in a good way.
I have nothing against it as I said but today, something happened that brought all of this back and so here I am pouring it all out.
We need people to adopt the children who cannot grow up within their family units and in most cases I am sure this is the right thing to do. I also have to believe that children who become part of another family, grow up happy and well, psychologically and emotionally. I hope that the modern ‘open’ adoption will allow both birth mum and child, at least knowledge of each other. I have to believe that.
Adoption lost me my son and because of my need to keep my integrity, has lost me my daughter. Both my own fault? That is up to you to decide. All I know is, I love both of them always have and always will. Jack knows this I only hope Melissa does as well.
Thank you for reading this. It has helped writing it all down. xx