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Monday, 1 November 2010

National Adoption Week - some reflections

It is National Adoption Week.

I intend to blog about adoption every day this week and hope to cover various viewpoints. It is one of those life issues that affects many people, rippling out down the years and across boundaries. So there are many voices - adoptive parents, birth parents, adopted people, siblings of adopted people, wider birth relatives, partners of adopted people, children of adopted people. If you would like to submit your voice, please send me some writing to this week for hosting on my blog. I recognise that it is all too easy to judge and that many in the mix have feelings and hurt ones at that.

I was adopted when I was one years old. Here are the random memories which perhaps give a flavour of my experiences.

1. I don't remember not knowing that I was adopted. For me, it is normal

2. My parents were some of the oldest to adopt at the time

3. My mum felt she had a calling from God one Easter to go and adopt a little girl

4. I was loved by my adoptive parents and by the wider family

5. As a child, I fantasised with friends and alone as to who my birth mum might be

6. I was told by me parents that I was chosen and hence very special.

7. When I threatened to leave home as a child, I felt all I had to do was find my "real" mother. She would make it all alright.

8. My parents spoke to me a lot about my adoption, particularly my mum

9. When I was about 10 years old, I found some paperwork and knew the name of my birth mum for the first time and also my birth name.

10. My parents had a lot of sympathy for my birth mum

11. My birth father did not get much of a mention except that there was a sense that my birth mum was the victim and him the perpetrator. Perhaps a married man? Perhaps a priest?

12. When asked about my family medical history, it was embarrassing as I had no answers

13. My parents sometimes took abuse about taking on "a tart's daughter who was bound to turn out like her mother"

14. A girl at school called Emma H told me it would have been kinder to abort me than to "farm me out."

15. I found out basic facts about my birth family when I was in my early twenties. For the first time, I knew I had had other siblings adopted seperately to me. Another huge sense of loss hit me.

16. In my late twenties, I traced my birth mother. My social worker told me I am very like my birth mum in terms of interests.

17. I swapped letters with my birth mother for a while. She told me about her marriage and her "official" family

18. I saw photographs of my birth mother and "official" birth siblings. There was a clear look of me when I was the same age. Will I look like her when I reach her age?

19. I traced some of my "official" birth siblings when they were adults having stayed away for years. I thought they knew about me - they didn't so there was tension

20. I remain in loose contact with one "official" birth sister and in close cyber contact with another one.

21. My birth mother no longer wishes to have contact with me from what I can tell as she does not reply to letters. Another rejection.

22. Having my first child was huge for me - my first blood relative

23. I don't like that my children have no contact with my birth family. That is their roots too and should not be denied.

24. I think I have struggled with feelings of being "not good enough" and "not wanted" all my life. My Dad says he knows there is a void that can never be filled.

25. Often including when my adoptive mum was dying, people would comment that I could only be her daughter as I looked so much like her. The last time it happened it was a Macmillan nurse who said it and me and my mum just looked at each other and said nothing. Afterwards, we talked about the incident and said that we don't need to say anything because we know we are mother and daughter whatever. I find that meeting of eyes and total love from one to the other comforting now mum is no longer here.

26. In my forties, I got my full adoption file as the laws changed. Scribbly sixties writing told me the story with very non-PC terminology. To protect readers of my blog that are involved in the story, I won't say what it said about my birth mum but it did say that my birth father was violent - another fact to digest and deal with. I am the daughter of a violent man - it is in the genes.

27. People have asked me if adoption "fucks you up". I think it sometimes does and that there are feelings of insecurity and lack of self-belief that stem from being adopted. I think these have held me back both in career and relationship matters. However, I think we all get "fucked up" along the way whatever our story, adopted or not.

28. I don't hold ill feelings against anyone in the process now. Well not much anyway. Only on the black cloud days.

29. Adoption is really common. My husband had a child adopted when he was a young man. My step-daughters lost two half-siblings to adoption. My birth mother's husband is apparently adopted. We are not some weird breed - we are everywhere.

30. Adoption grief can come at strange times. Listening to Piers Morgan interviewing Rod Stewart the other night, they talked of Rod's adopted child and how he used to say he has 7 children when he really has 8. I had not thought about that before and suddenly was sobbing, full on down the face, snot sobbing, heart-wracking stuff. Why? Because for the first time, I realised that when my birth mum is asked how many children she has she won't include me.

This is only part of my story.

I would love to hear other stories and feature them on the blog.

Please also use the buttons on my blog to share this on Twitter and Facebook as seems to be helping folks.


  1. I didn't want to read and not comment on this post. Breaking it down like this says so much and conveys a whole lot of emotion. I'll be here all week finding out more x

  2. I'll be here all week too. I really feel for you. You are so right - adoption IS everywhere. I too saw that Rod Stewart programme. I would love to talk about how adoption has affected my life but the story I have to tell is not my own. One day perhaps.

  3. I really don't know what to say. Only that this is such a powerful post. I want to tell you that your parents are right, you were chosen and that makes you special, you were just perfect for them.
    I've always wanted to adopt a child and give them a sense of belonging that has been taken from them. It's only as I get older that I realise that no amount of love and care can heal the wound that adoption leaves.
    Sending lots and lots of love to you, and everyone else who has been adopted.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! xo

    I am in the process of adopting a child and/or siblings. Actually tomorrow is the last Adoptive parenting meeting. On my blog is my story so far.

  5. Thanks for sharing - this is very useful! I hope to adopt some day and know very little about the process. I'd love to adopt a three or four year old little girl from any country. . . but it'll have to wait until life gets a bit more grounded.

  6. What an emotional post, I will be back for the rest of the week too

  7. What a great post. I have linked to this in my adoption post today, I hope you don't mind!:

  8. Fantastic writing Kate. Some of your best. Will definitely share, though I may need you to give me Twitter lessons.

  9. Thanks so much for such lovely comments.

    It has taken effort and emotion to study my adoption so closely but also very therapeutic and not just for myself so even better for that.

    I like my writing about this topic too.

    Although National Adoption Week is great, we do need to look at the difficult issues not just the lovely sepia image type tales.

    Thanks for everyone who has shared their stories with me and referred me to their blog. I promise to follow up very soon if not done already.

    Thanks again - the feedback is so much of the pleasure of my blog