We Are Family


Bounce Back Blog: Equally Best

Bounce Back Blog: Equally Best - Dana Cristea 2165 Unsplash

Welcome to our first Bounce Back Blog in which a blogger revisits a much earlier post and reviews their original feelings and thoughts. 

The original text is in italics and was first published in April 2014. New thoughts are added in bold, followed by a final comment from the blogger.

Equally Good.

"I heard a discussion on talk radio about an estranged birth father’s fight to overrule an adoption order as he had not been contacted and made aware of the adoption. I was amazed at just how many people phoned in saying variations of ‘blood is blood, they are his children of course he should get them back’. This was almost exclusively said with complete disregard for the adoptive parents and it made me realise how for many we adoptive parents will always just be seen as second best."

Of course the ideal is that all children stay with their birth parents who will love them and care for them, but we live in a world where sadly that is not so and where adoption is a necessity and I want to scream loudly and clearly that becoming a child's parent through adoption does not make us adoptive parents any less of a parent. We care for our children the same, we teach them the same, we love them the same, we bond and attach to them exactly the same. They are our children and they become part of us and not being born to us is completely irrelevant.

 "We may sometimes need to use the term adoptive parents to describe ourselves to others, but that it not how we define ourselves and what we feel is that we are of course just parents - just like any other parents.

Not ‘second best’ parents, but in fact the absolute best parents our children have had and will ever have."

To our children we are quite simply Mum or Dad, not adoptive Mum or Dad, not second best mum our dad. Just Mum or Dad - forever.

The radio discussion made much of the biological rights of the father and it got me thinking about the lack of shared blood with our children and how it has NEVER been remotely relevant – in fact not from the very moment we met.

"The night before meeting our sons for the first time we were at friends for dinner, they asked ‘what if you don’t like the children?’  which is something we had not considered at all, My response of ‘they are 4 and 5, what is there not to like?’ Was shot down with various examples of their children’s friends who apparently can be anything but likeable.

It did fill us with a degree of trepidation and we went along the next day with a new anxiety to add to the many we have picked up during the adoption process. We were greeted by foster parents and sat at the end of a long reception room. The boys were brought in and the foster mother said ‘ there are your new dads, go and say hello’ at which point they literally ran across the room and into our arms and in that very moment both my partner and I fell completely and utterly in love with our sons.

No blood – but total unadulterated love.

How could we be so sure? Well apart from the overwhelming emotion of the moment – trust me it took every ounce of strength not to break down and cry like babies (we just managed to hold that off until after we said our goodbyes and drove away, immediately stopping the car when we were out of sight) – whether or not we liked them became completely irrelevant, they were our sons and we loved them however they came.

There are certainly times when we don’t like traits in their personalities and we sure as hell don’t like some of the challenging behaviour, but you don’t need shared blood to be able to understand these and respect them as part of the package."

I don’t know the outcome of the father’s legal challenge, and I guess I don’t want to find out, because if he did win it will feel like such a personal insult – not to mention threat. I certainly hope he didn’t as he wasn’t there for his children when their mother was abusing or neglecting them or even during their time in care or when they were first placed into their new forever home.

Yet their new parents came along when needed and blood or no blood will no doubt always be there for them.

 Bloggers comment -

This was the first blog I wrote and clearly it was fuelled by a degree of anger.

 As a reasonably new adopter I had been hurt and greatly offended to hear so many people give no consideration for the new parents in this tragic case or indeed it seemed even for the children who were settling into a forever family and had hopefully started to lay down roots and who were no doubt beginning the long process of attachment. 

 The notion that the father trumped everything simply because of ‘blood’ made me feel vulnerable and I confess fleetingly made me consider if my new role as a father could ever be quite as significant without that blood tie.

 I soon got over that - of course it bloody can and it most definitely IS.

 I hated the radio programme and it’s callers for making me question it though and really appreciated the opportunity that blogging gave me to voice my feelings. The therapeutic benefits of getting my feelings ‘out there’ were immediately evident and I have continued to blog regularly as a consequence.

 Of course I understand the argument that first and foremost children should be with their birth parents and that the father in this case was fighting for what was indeed ‘naturally’ his, but it’s a slow and methodical process to remove a child and to have them adopted (at least 9 months)  and a father who had not been there through this or (as I say in the blog) when the child was being neglected or abused, has to have that automatic right to be a parent severely questioned, yet so many people clearly thought otherwise.

 We adopters are not second best, we are indeed equally best and we need to stand up and state that emphatically whenever and wherever it is questioned.

unsplash-logoDana Cristea

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  • Robert Hafetz

    I have testified in court in favor of the adoptive family in a similar case. My point is we have to look at every case separately with the default position being a child should remain with the birth family unless neglect or abuse is likely. In America we have a time limit for reversing an adoption of 3-6 months varying by state law. Fathers don't have to be found to lose their rights but there must be due diligence in trying to locate them. What we must keep in mind is that premature maternal separation from the birth, no matter the age, is a lifelong trauma for the child. Subsequent separations from foster homes reinforce the trauma of loss of caregivers. Adoption is fundamentally a trauma in the context of attachment not an attachment disorder. The foundation of a successful parenting is resolution of this trauma. Love is never enough and adoptees cannot be parented like a child one has given birth to. When a challenge to an adoption occurs it must be resolved as quickly as possible with the best interests of the child as goal. The longer it takes the greater the trauma of another separation.

  • M

    Adoptive parents love a child because they raised him but his parents will love him in spite of the fact they didn't. No adoptive parent will search endlessly for the child they did not adopt and did not name the way a parent will search endlessly for the child they did not raise who was renamed.
    Guardians don't get to keep custody of someone else's offspring because of all the effort they put in or because of how deeply bonded they've become they get to keep custody because for whatever reason the parent cannot or will not take care of them. So in the instance that you are blogging about it is not that the people caring for the infant are second best or did not do a good job its that their care is no longer needed because the father is now able to meet his obligations. Should a person's child have to loose out on their parents care forever just because they were not able to care for them for the first few days, months or years of their life? Why should that be a life sentence out of their parent's care just because someone else invested a lot of energy and love in taking care of them during their parent's absence?

    • Anon

      my sense of the blog's intend is that the parenting of an adoptive parent is equally important. It does not detract or diminish the love or bond between he child and its biological parents. We adoptive parents are all too aware that our children have (at least) two sets of parents. We need to be able to let the children love and have feelings for both. That too should not in any way diminish our love, bond and parenting. The biological parents are as much as a given as the children themselves are.
      And just another addition -hard as it is, children in care that are moved to be adopted, are moved for very good reason. If they are not, it is unjust. Of course. The situation is vvvvvvvv different from adoptions 30-40 years ago. Next to no children are 'relinquished' as was the case pre free abortion. Often is was social pressures that led to children being given up for adoption. The social stigma of a single unwed mother is not an issue these days.

      • M

        it's great that fewer parents willingly give their sons and daughters up that means less trauma from family separation. As for minors in care, if they are removed from parents who were tried in court and convicted of harming them, that is reasonable. If they are removed from a parent who is physically or mentally too ill or struggling with addiction to safely meet their needs that's reasonable but the parent should be obligated to have some level of continued productive interaction with their offspring. Their offspring should not loose their identity or legal kinship just because their parent can't take care of them. There are many willing foster carers who don't need to be granted the title of parent who are willing to lovingly do the job of caring for another person's minor offspring until the parent can take over at some point maybe a few months maybe a few years maybe never. Foster carers are required to facilitate productive contact between parents and their sons and daughters removed from their care. Foster carers also facilitate contact with other family members. The minor has already lost the daily care of their parents they should not loose their legal identity and kinship to boot. The best outcome for the minor in the original story is to have an interested and dedicated father it does not matter that he showed up late he showed up and he cares and the kid deserves his care. It should not be a finders keepers loosers weepers game. Whoops now someone else claimed the title because they were doing the job.

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