I thought it would be a wonderful, edifying thing if I went to the library to borrow some books I could read while I’m away over the next fortnight (got work experience for my course – keeping a blog about it as part of ‘This is how you pass the module’ – if you’re remotely interested it’s at Cuttlebrook Capers). I wandered in, waited at the help desk (who knows where you’d find the Iliad in a public library with no obvious classics section?) and a nice lady helped me to find that they had no copies of the Iliad. Or any Ian Fleming. So I wandered.
I wandered and wandered and picked up books, gave them a cursory glance, put them down again…I know you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover/title but when you’re somewhere with millions of the things, operating with no recommendations and wanting to try something new, you really are winking in the dark and have to rely on the ‘grabbiness’ of a title or cover before you pick it up and read the back.
If the back seems good, I read the first page. By then I can tell if it’s something I might enjoy or whether I should put it back on the shelf no matter how good the storyline appears to be.
I found nothing. The good books evidently didn’t have enough ‘grab’ for me to pick them out.
So I went on the snazzy library search engine and looked for ‘adoption’ figuring that if I was going to research, I might as well start sooner than later, and I know I’ll have time in the evenings to read this week. A few books. I jotted the number, found the right shelf, picked up a few then went to check them out.
WOW! Checkout was amazing. It was an automated system where you swipe your library card then just pile your books on a plain circle of wood inset in the countertop and all of a sudden your titles appear on screen as if by magic! An elderly gentleman next to me was equally dumbfounded “I only put it near the counter!” he exclaimed. I even asked a nearby librarian whether the circles were magic (much to the hilarity of a bloke opposite, who dissolved into snorting giggles as I asked, then tried to look nonchalant about it).
So it’s a high tech wooden circle. But it is a bit magical.
Anyways I stepped back out into the rain and walked to pick up a parcel of another adoption book I’d ordered. Got home and described to Husby what I’d been doing. He picked up a book, looked at the title (‘First Steps in Parenting a Child Who Hurts’) and remarked “That’s a bit depressing”.
What can I do but agree?
I don’t want to spend too much time looking through (okay there is no antonym for ‘rose-tinted spectacles’ but you know what I mean) because there’s a lot of positivity surrounding adoption, but the harrowing facts remain:
The child will have been separated from their parents because the parent was unable/unwilling to care for that child. Major loss #1.
The child will have been cared for by at least one foster carer. Then you enter the equation. Major loss #2 (at least).
They will have significant emotional trauma to deal with, if nothing else. This is why what is sometimes termed ‘theraputic parenting’ is needed. And I intend to find out what that is.
If we adopt, we’ll need to hit the ground running because even though we’ll have prepared up the wazoo, we won’t know exactly where we stand until we’re all left alone in our house with our new child, wondering ‘what next?’. No ‘comfort days’ when they sleep and eat and poop. No time to watch them develop their character – they will arrive with a fully-formed personality, and some of it (if not much of it) will be shaped by their past experiences.
These will be (at a minimum) loss, neglect, abandonment, emotional abuse. In a worst case scenario there might have been sexual abuse, physical abuse, witnessing domestic violence, extreme neglect, badly managed medical needs.
And that’s only the psychological trauma – they may have had to over come such things as drug withdrawal, they may have FAS, Down Syndrome, they may have learning difficulties, they may have a family history of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, they may have a physical disability.
That said, though I can confidently say that no natural child of mine would end up with FAS or suffer drug withdrawal, the rest seem as likely as each other to occur, and the advantage of adopting is that in all cases, you know what you’re in for – it’s not a sudden shock when they’re put into your arms or tested years later after consistent struggles.
Adopted children or children who have been looked after will need extra support, love and sensitivity in their parenting. We as parents will need to be much more clued-up and ready to fulfil those needs from the off. And yes, it is a bit depressing.
But it’s also wonderful.
We can give that child their forever home and teach them what it is to be loved unconditionally. Not because they’ve been through hell and we feel sorry for them. Not because they needed rescuing. Not because they have particular difficulties to overcome. Not because of what they can or can’t do. Not because of the bits we’ve missed in their life or the bits we’ll be there to see, but because they’ll be a person worthy of love because they’re a person and that’s what people need. Fundamentally. And they’ll receive it from us because they’ll be our child.
And sometimes it will be a bit depressing. But I hope it will be a million times more AWESOME.