I heard a quote a few weeks ago which was “beware of worshipping the tea pot and not drinking the tea”. It made me think of the shine of new things, the illusion of something that invariably might turn out to be something completely different once you get into the realities – such as adoption.
I’ve always wanted a proper tea pot – it’s something that other people seem to have but I never can quite bring myself to buy one. I see loads of lovely looking ones but the idea of a tea pot is much more appealing then actually using one. When I have used one it just seems a bit pointless! Those metal ones particularly that you find in canteens that always seem to drip the liquid down your hands as you try and pour – what’s that about?
Anyway what on earth has this got to do with adoption you might think? Over the last few years I’ve been involved in encouraging others to consider adoption as an option for their family. It’s really difficult sometimes to be positive about this process and about adoption in general as the realities are very often much different to the shiny exterior that’s portrayed on TV or in the media. That’s not to say that I don’t think adoption is a good thing – I do – although of course it’s not ideal for anyone concerned. For our children the ideal is to be with their birth family as they grow. For us we would have liked to have given birth to our children. But adoption is a viable option and a necessity for children whose parents can not look after them. I believe children need to be in families if at all possible.
One of the main differences I’ve noticed over the past year about the process of adoption is that even though more is known about Attachment and vulnerable children, prospective adopters are still very naive coming to panel. Because the process is so much shorter (6 months instead of the 2.5 years that it took us) people are waiting to get approved before they join support groups and actually hear the realities from other adopters. I don’t understand why people do that! You need to know as much as you possibly can before you embark on such a life changing journey.
So what can we suggest to those considering this roller coaster of a journey? Here’s a few tips to give to those you might know thinking about adopting. Also there is an e-book I created a while ago for those considering adoption – please share this link with others if relevant.
1) Read up on adoption – the best book I’ve come across for UK adopters that’s very real and shows both sides – the challenges and joys, is by Sally Donovan called No Matter What.
2) Join a support group – there are many around the country run by Adoption UK. You can find your nearest form the website.
3) Your local authority can put you in touch with other adopters in your area that you can talk to. This is a great way to get to know the realities of adoption and your specific circumstances. So you can meet other single adopters, or people who have birth children too, or people who’ve adopted siblings. We have met with a few prospective adopters and had them spend time with our family to just see what it might feel like.
4) Listen to what others say. Whether you’re a glass half full or half empty it’s human nature to hear stories from others and think “that won’t be us” – whether you hear the horror stories and think – “yes but ours won’t be like that” or indeed hear good stories and think “yes but ours won’t be like that”. It’s really hard to accept what you hear before you’re actually living it yourself and be able to imagine how it will be, because the truth is it may be better and it may be worse. The chances are though that the challenges adopters face will be present for most adopters to one degree or another and this is why it’s so important to build friendships with other adopters before you have your children, so that you have people to go to who understand when you really need help.
5) Finally accept that adoption will be part of your life from the moment you take an adopted child into your home. Of course not everything is about adoption – there’s normal child development issues and things all families experience. But adoption is a part of your child’s life and will be forever – whether you help them to accept that and to deal with all the future issues that might bring, could be really important to their growth and to you as a family.