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Saturday, 21 July 2012

We are a family......

There's a lot in the news at the moment about adoption and whether siblings should be adopted together. I'm not sure this in itself is should be how difficult it is for people who want to adopt.

I knew a couple who were unable to have kids. Lovely couple, both in their early 30's. She was a successful hairdresser he was a butcher....sounds almost vaguely amusing! Anyway, they went through the initial form filling process, this took 2 years. They were happy to adopt young children, not just babies and were given the impression they would be suitable....until they handed over their accounts. They owed some money, not a surprise in todays world , not even to credit cards, it was for a loan from her mum to decorate the house. It was £2,500 which they were paying back on a monthly basis. The local authority demanded that potential adopters had savings, which this couple did but their debt negated this. The powers that be had a problem with's debt. They were allowed to go further into the process, health checks. She is a size 14, gym twice a week, he is a rugby player....the powers that be decided they were both obese, according to BMI Index. They were both told they needed to lose weight.

So let's just digest that information....a successful couple have a debt of £2,500 are told they are both obese are refused the opportunity to adopt children in need. So keen are they to adopt the put themselves on a new fitness regime in order to lose weight....until it then hits them. The pain of trying to have children, the 2 years of trying to get onto the adoption register proved too much. They withdrew their application...a huge loss to the children waiting to be adopted.

I have experience of adoption, as I was adopted at 9 months old. Bit different back then. My blood mother had me when she was 18 years old and unmarried. She was put in a unmarried mothers home and she agreed to have me adopted. I say agreed, she signed the paperwork, how much she wanted to do that I will never know. Huge pressure from her family and the authorities may have swayed her. It would have been very difficult to bring me up on her own in the late 60's....shame and lack of support would have made the decision a lot easier. My sister's blood mother was 16, even worse. My future parents had to go through rigorous checks of course but behind all of this was their yearning to have children. This was not, as many adoptions were back then, a bohemian, Angelina Jolie style yearning, my future Mum was physically not able to have kids

I was put in a home. I was lucky, my Mum and Dad picked me. They paid a £1 and after a lot of paperwork and time, took me home. Imagine this though, written into the adoption was the 'change of mind' clause, not sure if this still exists, my blood mother could change her mind up to year after the adoption, how uneasy my new parents must have felt in that first sister came along a couple of years later, I was not best pleased, so used to all the attention I had a face on for the first week of my sister being with us. Our parents were fantastic, I never remember being told I was adopted, I have always known, in fact even now at 43 years old I will still ask my Mum to tell me the story of when they first saw me, how they felt. Me and my sister are sisters. Deeply connected, a real sense of family. She now lives in Essex, while I'm in Kent, we see each other when we can, our connection never waivers.

I am unsure of my blood family history, whether I have brothers or sisters, to be honest I have no real yearning to know. I am very comfortable with who I am, where I'm from, my family connection. This is, of course, down to my wonderful Mum and Dad. The question being asked at the moment is should siblings be adopted together, I'm not sure how to answer that. If there are couples who are prepared to take on more than one child I don't see the problem but if it means that, for example, 5 kids from the same family can't be adopted unless they go together I worry about their future.

My line of work brings me in contact with families that are struggling. Many are 'broken' homes, many mothers/fathers having suffered abuse, many young people having witnessed or experienced things I will never experience. One young person was taken away from his blood family as a toddler, his adoption broke down and 2 years later he was returned to his 'family' home. His brothers and sisters did not accept him, mother had had another child and he has suffered emotionally ever since. Social services look to keep the family together as much as possible, lessons learned from the past, however sometimes that family is not the right family for the young person involved, even if they are blood relatives. I think back to the couple I knew, desperate to adopt, full of love, hope and the yearning to have a family......

So I started this blog entry thinking about whether siblings should be adopted together and end it not really knowing the answer. The adoption process needs looking at, more and more people adopt from abroad because of the negative way they are treated by the respective authorities. This can't continue.

Me and my sister were lucky....we are a family.

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