I ask not for a lighter load but broader shoulders

Friends chatting

When we started on the adoption journey I really did believe I was resilient enough to do a good job. Like most people I’ve had my ups and downs in life but nothing really major I guess – I’ve been very fortunate. Of course the journey to adoption for people (us included) is usually a rocky one thwart with loss, pain and anxiety BUT the end result – three amazing children – is incredible. Over the last year I would say I’ve been slowly trying to change my focus in my parenting and my thoughts about adoption in general. When you see the programmes on TV (like the current Finding Mum and Dad series) they are sometimes quite one sided – they either show the horrendously difficult decisions and lifestyles people have that impact on children, or they show this very unrealistic, twee view of a lovely dreamlike family coming together and living happily ever after. In reality it’s somewhere in the middle.

I’m sick of hearing the statistics that come out about the outcomes for children who’ve been through the care system. They are shocking and can be very soul destroying for those of us trying to make a difference to children’s lives. However you can’t bury your head in the sand and pretend all is well when it isn’t. A recent study I heard talked about three thirds within adoption – a third of people apparently are doing well (however you quantify that), another third are struggling, and the final third are in crisis i.e. disruption where children have to go back into the care system. This doesn’t surprise me as it probably reflects my experience with those around me. It does worry me though that we concentrate so little on post adoption support and that is the single most important thing that will move you from one third to another.

I remember a few years ago having a meal with some adoption friends – two mothers, both struggling and probably moving from the second to the final third if you go on the study above. Both Mums really finding day to day life difficult, striving to manage their own emotions and this was impacting on how they felt about their children too. I said at one point “I’m not where you are YET” – when I was driving home I thought – you know I never want to be there! I never want to be in that place where every day is a struggle and it’s difficult to see the good in anything about adoption. I understand how we can get to that point and hold no judgement for those who find themselves there. I do however hope to help others not reach that point themselves.

This year I’m looking at focusing on helping and supporting other adopters in whatever way I can. I know that one of the main areas I’d love to influence is this weeks quote – I ask not for a lighter load but broader shoulders – I would love to make that my mantra and others I care about in this arena – that we would not just accept our family circumstances but be grateful and relish what it can bring us. In order to do that I know we need much broader shoulders – for some of us that means relying more on a God we believe can sustain us throughout whatever life brings, for others that means finding strength in people around us and within ourselves. Either way I know that this is the road I was meant to tread – it may not seem like that sometimes but this is where I am meant to be – so I just pray for the capacity to thrive in my circumstances and to be that shoulder for others when I can.

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