The election campaign has taken over my writing for the time being, but I feel compelled to write this, after coming across an article, orginally published in The Independent on 27th September 2017. It had the headline “Adoptive parents say “extraordinary lack of support has driven their families to crisis point” written by their social affairs correspondent at the time, May Bulman. As I read the article, I thought that the heading would have read better if it had said “Adoptive parents totally mis-handle the children they have taken in” as the article showed no understanding, of how to deal with the trauma that relinquishment instils!
The article starts “We always felt that our love and commitment would prevail.” How many times have I read that? “We love them, that is all it will take” mentality. It goes on – more than a quarter of adoptive families are in crisis, parents with adopted children tell the Independent, they are overwhelmed. Around 5,500 children are adopted each year in the UK, they tell us at the very end of the article – so 1250 families, if we assume that some siblings are adopteed together, are in crisis because of how they do not understand how the child feels.
We read about Sarah and Dave, who adopted a baby boy when he was ten months old. We are told that Ollie* not his real name, was adopted when he was ten months old. We are not told how many times Ollie was relinquished in those ten months, but my guess would be twice, but more is a distinct possibility. He may have been relinquished by his mother who gave birth to him, very close to his birth, and then taken to a foster family whilst the adoption process was being finalised, before arriving at Sarah and Dave’s home. In the early days his development followed a normal course, but issues soon started to emerge. Again we are not told of the parenting style of Sarah and Dave, but I can’t help wondering if Ollie was ever put on the naughty step as a way of managing his behaviour, because I can tell you, as an adoptee, he would feel abandoned again, triggering his emotions that he probably couldn’t verbalise, so he would have a tantrum. Rather than investigate why he was showing signs of ADHD and autism, it was put down to his birth mother’s use of heroin during the pregnancy.
Sarah says he had terrible issues making friends. Darling Sarah, do you have any idea how it feels to be a child who has been abandoned and rejected by your mother? You take that experience into life – if your mother didn’t want you, no-one wants you to be their friend either. In our tiny tramuatised minds, we crave friendships and relationships and yet we push people away, because it is easier for us to reject you, than wait for you to reject us. We hold the cards that way.
At secondary school he sounded like he was in his own little war zone in his head, struggling to deal with the social elements. Sarah had eighteen months going between services, being bandied about. “It took an extraordinary amount of resilience to fight with all the services” she said. I have three questions to ask her, or any other person who is struggling to deal with their child’s behaviour.
- Have you read Nancy Verrier’s book Primal Wound.
- Have you watched Paul Sunderland’s youtube video on Addiction and Adoption.
- Have you spoken to an adoptee? One who has come out of the fog, as an expert on how your child may be feeling and why they are acting the way they are, at any given time.
Let’s take birthdays as an example. In general we adoptees don’t like our birthdays. It is nothing to do with the heroin our mother’s may or may not have taken whilst they were pregnant with us. We don’t like them for the very reason that we see them as the day that our mother abandoned us, whilst you, dear adoptive parent, see us as the answer to your infertility problem. So while we want to grieve the loss of our mother, you want to celebrate. Grief and celebration really don’t mix too well in our tiny minds.
I am so sorry Ollie, that Sarah and Dave had absolutely no idea how you would feel being sent away to boarding school. They promised to love you, and instead of trying to understand you, they did the most hurtful thing imaginable, they rejected you and sent you away and went to the newspapers to say we did everything right, but social services didn’t support them.
“In order to maintain his place in the family” you sent him away. Please don’t be surprised Sarah and Dave if he never comes back to take his place in your family again. You sent him away, why on earth would he want to come back to take his place? He doesn’t have a place in his eyes.
I couldn’t bear to read much further as Sarah went on to say how she made 20-30 phone calls, and goes on to say “parents already going through such trauma”. Not one mention about the trauma that Ollie went through prior to arrival at their home.
I have reached out to Adoption UK and offered to speak at thie conference, they haven’t replied to my reply. I have also reached out to the journalist and The Independent, offering to write an article about how society can help adoptees. They too have failed to respond. Until the adoption fraternity start to engage with adoptees, I fear that more and more “Ollies” are going to be let down. Please engage with us, we want to help you stop causing children more issues than they already have, because adoptive parents and the adoption world beleive that all you need is love. It is what we need, but we also need you to understand us. Reach out to us, if you are serious about the mental health of 1250 children a year.