Recently there has been quite a bit of debate around a TV advert which showed a young girl searching for her ‘real dad’.

it caused much upset to adoptive families because it appeared to encourage vulnerable young people to independently search for their birth family. To not have the support to do it, and to have to deal with the consequences on their own. It appeared to show a successful reunion, which is not always the case & could possibly give false hope to others wanting to search.

In this advert the word that really stood out, and that was hotly debated was the word ‘real’ It made me think about how this relates to adoption, and what it means when we mean the word ‘real’ I think it means different things to different people.

when talking about ‘real parents’, I would say that both the birth and adoptive parents would like to claim that they are the (adopted) child’s real parents. I think that actually all parents are real.

One adoptive parent claimed that there is a difference between real and birth parents, and added that they were the ‘real’ parent. If I’m honest, this annoyed me, it didn’t seem fair. Yes, they were the parent raising the child. And yes, any parent (or carer) raising a child is very much real. They care for the child, meet their needs, love them. there is no doubt that they are a real parent (or carer)

But, I don’t think that we can then not call a birth parent a real parent too. They might not be physically raising the child, but they are still related to and created them. They are also very much real. To dismiss them is surely wrong? They might not be legal parents, but they’re still real people. We need to see them, treat them as real people.

It was interesting because all the complaints and chat came from adoptive parents, and very little from adoptees themselves. This gives quite a biased view. I do agree with what was said, but I do wonder that if we asked adopted people who they feel their real parents are, what would they say? I think that what’s important is that it’s for them to decide, and whatever they feel, that is absolutely fine. We shouldn’t be labelling people for them. For some it might be very difficult to call either ‘real’, or they may be still be working out how that relationship works.

I am adopted, and I very much see my adoptive parents as my real parents. They raised me, they love me, I am their daughter. They are to me my parents, simple as that. I would never call them my ‘real’ parents because I don’t need to make that distinction. I never questioned it. It’s not that I don’t see my birth parents as real. For me, I guess it’s because I never had a relationship with them, and I don’t think I ever yearned to want or need one.

I wonder if I asked my 5year old about who she feels her real mum is, what she’d say. She calls me Mummy, and she’d name me if someone asked her who her Mum is. But, she knows she has two mums. She knows I didn’t give birth to her. She knows who her birth mum is. She calls her by name. She knows her story. She knows that her Birth Mum will always be her Birth Mum. I can’t, and wouldn’t ever take that right and title away from her. I told her that one day, and think it really helped her to know that it’s ok to see us both as her Mum. To see us both as very real to her.

So, to conclude, I think it’s good that the advert highlighted the issues around searching for family in adoption. Maybe it shows that there needs to be so much more support for everyone as they navigate the complexities of this. I also hope it reminds us all to think about the language and labels we use, and to think about the people behind them. At the end of the day we’re all people, and all people are 100% real!

Adoption Celebrations

This post is all about whether we should celebrate adoption, and the various ‘milestones’ associated with adoption. I have been thinking about this for some time now, and was prompted to try to write some thoughts down. It came after someone mentioned on Twitter about seeing others announcing and celebrating the arrival of their child via adoption. They wondered whether such an event was worthy of a celebration?

Its’s a tricky one, this because as with every situation, we don’t know the full story behind this, as someone else said ‘snapshot’. So, we naturally come to conclusions and I guess, judge. I wanted to think about why adoptive parents want to celebrate adoption, and why seeing them do this could make others upset or uncomfortable.

I don’t know if I”m just a bit more connected on social media now then when we were going through the adoption process, or that its a much bigger anyway now. However, I see with and engage with adoption a lot. One thing I’ve noticed is the adopters use widely to ‘document their journey’ From pre approval, matching, to the child coming home, and beyond. It seems a big thing now, and there are even adoption milestone cards that some people use. I was thinking about why we feel the need to do this, and thought that maybe it’s because we want it to be like it would be if we were pregnant. It allows parents to not feel left out of this preparation phase. It builds the excitement and anticipation. It draws others into our journey, and provides support.

Now we are parents, we fairly often take to social media to share our daughter’s achievements. The funny things she does or says. The joy she brings to our family. The fabulous little girl she is. Why do we do it? Because we’re parents, and generally that’s what parents do. Our daughter may be adopted, but we’re just like any other parents in that we’re proud, and we want to share our happiness with others. Parenting requires your absolute all, and this includes celebrating the good bits. I think as an adoptive parent, if you don’t let yourself do this, you could end up feeling not fully their parent. You might feel a bit detached maybe. Like you’re not allowed to celebrate because it might upset someone else. Obviously, with adoption there are additional things to consider about what and how we share. But, I don’t think that should take away being allowed to celebrate.

For some adoptive parents, the little things really are the big things. Their child may have achieved something massive for them, so of course they’re going to want to celebrate, and why not? I guess it can provide hope to others as well, that somehow, someday they’ll get there too.

Parts of adoption that are often celebrated include matching, introductions, homecoming day and the granting of the adoption order. Now I’ve understood adoption trauma more, I have mixed feelings about celebrating these events. They are normally hugely happy and positive to the adoptive family. But of course, with adoption there is always loss, grief and sadness that goes hand in hand with these ‘milestones’ One family’s gain is then another’s loss. One family’s happiness is another’s pain. It’s complicated, and no one story is the same as another. It’s very emotive, and people will have big feelings and views about it.

We have and still do publicly ‘celebrate’ these markers of our story. But, we often think about our daughter’s birth family, and how they might be feeling on those days. We talk to her about them, and discuss her story with her regularly. She knows that it’s ok to miss them and to feel sad. I think that as she gets older, she might not want to celebrate those events so much, and that’s ok. I hope that adopters these days do consider birth families when they celebrate. Of course we only see what they share, and shouldn’t assume, but I’d like to think that there is more awareness of adoption trauma now. I hope parents are empathetic and sensitive in what they share.

I’m going to end this post with this quote, which I love. I don’t know where it comes from, but it think it perfectly sums up adoption. As adoptive parents we must never forget this. She is our daughter, but she is their’s too. Although she is legally ours, she wouldn’t be here without them, and she has a huge place in our hearts as well as in theirs too.