Inter-racial Adoption

Recently there has been some discussion around trans (or inter) racial adoption, with people having varying views around the subject. I thought I’d try to put across some of my thoughts around the subject, and the reasons why I have them….

So, I have quite strong views about inter-racial adoption as it is a subject that is very personal to me. This is because I myself am interracially adopted (30years ago), and last year I adopted my daughter who does not share either mine or my husband’s ethnicities. My parents are both White British, and I am ethnically Asian. I was adopted directly from my country of birth when my parents worked there in the late 80s. I identify myself as British as that’s what my family is, and since I was adopted in the UK I have held a British passport. I don’t call them my adoptive family or adoptive parents because ever since I can remember they’ve been my parents, the only ones I’ve ever known. I have 5 siblings, all of whom are adopted from different countries (including the UK). My parents also foster carers, and have fostered children of different ethnicities. As you can see, adoption, and particularly inter-racial adoption are a big part of our lives.

I feel (from experience) that when done right, inter-racial adoption can be very positive and beneficial. It has worked brilliantly in my family because for us it seems normal, and I’ sure this was a big big plus point in our match with our daughter. She’ll grow up not feeling out of place in a family where we all look different. She’ll grow up, hopefully like I have, feeling proud to be part of a family that has celebrated and embraced differences. My parents have worked hard to achieve this. We did live in most of the countries we are adopted from, so do have that knowledge and experience of culture etc, so that helps with that connection. We have lots of shared memories of these places, and talk about them regularly. My parents also helped us to complete a project about our birth countries, which included a visit back when we were older. I think that my parent’s open-ness and effort to talk about adoption from the beginning has massively helped. I was talking to our social worker about how to help our daughter know she’s adopted, and I told her I can’t remember a time I didn’t know. She advised I ask my parents how they achieved that, so I did. They said they talked about adoption from day 1, and always presented all the facts, even if it was before we would fully understand, this way nothing was a surprise when we got to the stage when could comprehend our stories.

Adoption has always been celebrated in our family, with a ‘homecoming day’ each to celebrate the day we came home. I still mark that day now, 30years on, and can’t wait to do that for my little girl. Like any parent, they unconditionally loved (still do) us, and so we were very clear in the knowledge that we were very much loved, desired and cherished children. I think this has helped me shape my identity in our family, and I don’t think I’ve ever really questioned my place in my family. We did attract some attention, but I don’t remember this to be negative, just people being curious. In the UK we lived in a predominately white area, but again I don’t remember it bothering me, again I think this was due to the strong family identity we had, we knew we belonged together so not much else mattered.

When I was adopted 30years ago inter-racial adoption was unusual, my parents actually had to move to an area of the UK that supported it. I get the feel that even in today’s climate it is not as common as maybe it should be 30years on. During our assessment we had a social worker who seemed quite anti inter-racial adoption. I think she thought that any match should be an exact match. She left the agency half way through our stage one, we were actually quite pleased as we don’t think we would have worked very well together given our different views on the subject. I totally understand that inter-racial adoption should be done sensitively and always with the child’s best interest at heart. Adoptive parents should make sure that the child has opportunities to explore their ethnicity and origins, including culture, history etc. Families should be able to demonstrate how they might meet specific needs, or promote certain attributes, and how their support network can support them. For example, my daughter’s hair takes some looking after, no one in my family has hair like it. I was able to tell the social workers that I have friends’ children have similar hair, so I’d take tips from them. I have, and they’ve been a great help.

I know that in adoption love can’t fix it all, but all children need love, and if there are parents who don’t look like the child, but they are willing to love, nuture, and help the child discover their unique identity, then they shouldn’t be over-looked in a match. I am very grateful to the social workers (both ours and our daughter’s) as they were all able to see us for who we are, not just for what we look like. It didn’t matter that we didn’t exactly match as we were able to demonstrate how we will work hard to make sure our daughter has opportunities to learn about her background and personal story. I hope that as she grows my daughter can take some comfort from knowing that like her I don’t look like my parents. I hope that I can help her be proud to inter-racially adopted, and  have a strong self identity just like I do.

Doing Great! (or not!)

When people ask how we’re doing, I always say ‘really great thanks’, even if we’re having a bad day, rarely do I say how I really feel, and this got me thinking, why do we do this?…..

So yesterday I felt a bit fed up, not myself and was really not ‘fine’, yet when I bumped into a friend on a run he asked how we were and I said ‘great!’. Afterwards I thought why did I just say that, why did I effectively lie. I think we feel it’s a socially acceptable thing to say. Or maybe if I let myself say how I really feel, the emotional floodgates would open and I don’t really want that (even if it’s what I really need). Or it could be because I feel that people think it was all a happy ever after when we adopted and they assume we’re all having a wonderful time. yes, what I post on social media is normally very happy and lovely, but as I always say, thats the ‘edited highlights’. They don’t see the hard bits, maybe they should.

Nothing is massively bad at the moment, but I think that a number of things are on my mind at the moment, and I’m a thinker so it all accumulates into something that’s bigger in my mind than it really is. I also feel that we really don’t have it as hard as some people do, so feel bad for moaning, maybe I should harden up and get on with it. So last night when I couldn’t sleep I was thinking the following:

  • It’s not ok that the seemingly constant tantrums, defiance & tears are wearing me down. I find it especially hard that she seems like a little angel when out and about, so people don’t really know how it is.
  • it’s not ok that I don’t really know if we’re doing the right things. I so want to be able to help my little girl, but sometimes feel I make it worse. Im still struggling to know if it’s ‘trauma’ or normal toddler behaviour.
  •  We gave her a musical jewellery box when we had our celebration hearing, and although she does seem to like it, it appears to trigger some sort of sad/upset emotions, and it’s not ok that we have no idea why
  • It’s not ok that I feel quite socially isolated, in the 9months she’s been home, we haven’t really made any new friends. We already had some friends, and they’re great, but it would have been nice to connect a bit more.
  • It’s not ok that I’m quite apprehensive about return to work, and the change we’re all going to have to get used to.
  • It’s not ok that running, something I used to mostly love is now really hard, and I miss loving it
  • It’s not ok that sometimes I just really want to go back to my life pre-child, or that sometimes I really don’t like her. (although I challenge any parent to say that they haven’t thought this at some point).
  • She still misses her Foster Carer, and although we have agreed to meet up, it’s not ok that I can’t reassure her and tell her when or where.
  • It’s not ok that I don’t feel great, nausea/dizziness is not ideal when having to look after an active toddler. Maybe a trip to the Dr to check on those iron/vit D levels may be beneficial.

Then i felt really bad for thinking some of these things, and I tried to see the positives, and to identify what is OK/great. I know that I am very lucky to have such an amazing daughter. She is the friendliest & smiliest person I know. She brings a lot of joy to a lot of people. She has already endured so much in her short life so far, and she makes me so proud.

  • Today we made it to 9months as a family. Thats a great achievement. We saw our girl’s social worker at the celebration hearing, and she commented on how little one is ‘thriving’ in our care, that was nice to hear
  • To see how confident our daughter is becoming. last Sunday in church she got up, unprompted and danced on stage. She was so natural and free, and lovely to see. several people commented after that it had made their day.
  • To see that we are helping our daughter to love reading. The lady at playgroup observed that she obviously does a lot of reading at home. It was nice to know we’re getting something right.
  • Generally she is doing amazingly, very well settled and is on the whole lovely. She now spontaneously gives the cutest little kisses which I love.

So, in conclusion, I think it’s important to be honest about how we’re feeling, and to try to be a bit more observant when with others because I’m sure they’re not always as ‘ok’ as they say they are.

 

Happy Father’s Day

Happy first Father’s Day to our little girl’s Daddy!

This weekend is Father’s Day, and it’s the first one our little family will be having. To celebrate, I thought our daughter could help me write this post. (she is 3) So, 1st thing this morning I asked her to tell me some things about her Daddy, here goes….

1)What does Daddy look like?

He’s got a belly

He’s got a brown nose

He’s got a beard on his face

2)What do you like about Daddy?

He gives good cuddles and kisses

He plays with the toy fairground

He plays with the Duplo, and makes the huge tower with the rabbit on top

He reads me books

He gives me cuddles in the night (she loves the ‘out of bed’ cuddles when she gets out to sit on his knee to cuddle)

3) What is the thing you like best about Daddy ?

cuddles!

As you can see, she really really loves her Daddy, and it’s been lovely and such a privilege to watch this special relationship develop. She has never had a Daddy before. As far as we’re aware there was no father figure for her in her birth family, and the female foster carer seemed to do the majority of her care. She talks about the female foster carer a lot, but hardly ever the male one. She took to her Daddy from the moment they first met, she was fascinated by him on their first meeting.

We were very lucky in that initially her Daddy worked from home, so he was around in the day, and she could see him several times a day, this I’m sure really helped develop that strong attachment to him. Now he works away from home, she loves it when he comes back at the end of the day, to see her so excited and happy to see him is really cute. It’s him she usually calls for at night or when she’s unsettled before sleep. He’s much better than me at staying calm, and is able to help her calm down and settle when all I want to do is walk away and cry. He does give amazing cuddles. she’s one lucky girl to have him.

Daddy has grown into his role brilliantly, and I’m so proud of how he’s done. Adoption was always my idea and dream, and he supported me throughout. He was willing to go through the assessment because it was something I wanted to do, even though he’s a very private person who doesn’t give much away. During that time, he came to share this dream as something we would do together. He was the sensible one, and the voice of reason during matching, without his wisdom and head thought (I’m all heart thoughts), we wouldn’t have the fantastic daughter we do. He didn’t have much experience of young children, but somehow just knew what to do with our daughter, I think that’s called natural Daddy skills! He has supported me massively. He’s great at getting me to talk about things if I need to, or knowing that it’s better to just let me have some peace and quiet. He’ll give me a break if needed. He is doing all this around juggling a busy more than full time job as a self-employed ‘IT geek”

So, we just want to say a huge ‘Thank-You’ to an amazing daddy and husband for being you, we’d be lost without you!

 

Celebration 🎈

This week we have the Celebration Hearing of the Adoption Order in court, so I wrote a little letter to my daughter…

Dear Darling,

This week we celebrate you and all that you are. We celebrate that you’ve become ours legally and forever. We celebrate the journey we all took to get to this point. We celebrate the past and anticipate the future.

I’ve been reflecting on the last year, and thinking about all thats happened to us all. This time last year we didn’t know about you, didn’t know that you existed and didn’t know that you were going to become ours one day. Once we first saw your smiling face in your profile, everything moved very quickly, and you also very quickly wriggled your way into our hearts. We first met you nearly 9months ago. I can’t believe it’s only been 9months as it feels like you’ve been ours forever. I remember the 1st time we met you. We heard you before we saw you as you ran to the door to let us in. When I saw your smiling face looking up at us, and when you said ‘it’s Mummy & Daddy!’ my heart skipped a beat. Although we had little experience of small children we instinctively got down on the floor to play with you. We had a stacking toy, and I clearly remember you staring intently at Daddy whilst we played. You’d never had a Daddy before, and seemed fascinated by him. One of my favourite things is to watch you two together. To have seen your deep bond and love grow. It’s a special thing. A favourite memory of intros was walking with you hand in hand between us, and you just smiling and having a great time.

This week we celebrate how far we’ve all come since we became a family. We’ve had our ups and downs as any family does, but you keep us going. You are the reason we get up everyday, our desire to give you our best is what drives us even though sometimes we feel at a bit of a loss. At times we’re not sure if we’re doing it right, questioning if your behaviour is down to being a toddler or ‘trauma’ However, our love for you is never questionable or lessened.

You are growing into a beautiful little girl, with gorgeous twirly curly hair and the biggest heart melting smile. You are the friendliest girl I know, always happy to say hello to any passing person or doggy. Despite all you’ve been through you still have your positive sunny personality. We’re so proud of you, and all you’ve achieved in your life so far.

So, this week as we celebrate you, we look forward to the future and all it will bring. We’re excited to see who’ll you become and what great things you’ll get up to.

Thank you for making us Mummy and Daddy, and for being ‘our little baby, our precious loved little girl, forever!’

Happy Celebration Day sweetheart,

Lots of love

Mummy x