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Not Who I Thought I'd Be

I am not the parent I thought I’d be. And yes, I am totally intimidated by ‘everyone else’ who seems to be parenting perfectly and totally in control. YOU LOT – how do you do it?

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Out Of The Mouths Of Babes

If anyone is familiar with the five ways to wellbeing, one of the quadrants (ignoring that this is quadrant no. 5!) is to give to others. One way I’ve been able to do that is by supporting potential adopters via sessions at the agency I adopted though. I troop up to Barkingside once every few months, usually harassed and running late due to my nine year-old’s fear that I am not coming back! I always ask my little munchkin if there is anything she would like me to say, and this varies depending on her mood. This time I had a huff and a “Really? Again?” So we decided it would be so much easier if she wrote it down so I wouldn’t have to keep asking her! Below is exactly what ten minutes of her mind created – totally unprompted (I have not changed anything; everything is her own words and style…except for adding the YouTube link which she insisted I help her with.)

So from the mouth of a babe…

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Gold Tooth.

A greasy winter’s day a couple of years ago I was walking down the street, as you do, pushing a newly arrived Jack in his buggy and my goddaughter by my side. My little brand new family and hers were heading off for some half term shenanigans.

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Travelling Together

I am in a really privileged position. Pre-adoption, I made it my mission to travel as much as possible and when I adopted I understood that this part of my life would end. But, surprise surprise, my six year-old came to me with a desire to travel and begging for a passport.

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Tribute to a Foster Mum

My husband and I were scared witless the first time we met our son’s foster mum. She didn’t make eye contact with either of us and her body language was closed - hostile, even. Both arms wrapped tightly across her soft bosom.

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7 Years

My mother lived to just 62, far too young of course and her death seemed illogical and unjust at the time. However, just how young she was is only now starting to sink in - more than 16 years later.

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Missing Dad

My husband has just come back from four nights away. For many families, there’s nothing unusual in that. Weekends away and work trips are regular occurrences, and many families take them in their stride. It is unusual for us, though. In the four years since the boys came to live with us, I’ve never spent a night away from them, and my husband has only been away twice, each time for two nights. 

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Hey! That's my information!

...I wasn't sure how the other girl now newly outed as an adoptee to a complete stranger would react, but I needn't have worried. She turned to the other, hands on hips and said the following in a calm but confident manner.. 

"Hey! You can't just go round telling people that stuff! That's private. That's my information! It's up to me who I tell about that OK?"


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They're Adopted

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was at a meeting of fellow adopters and was surprised to hear a parent say how unhappy they were that their child's school had outed them as being adopted. They were clearly upset and concerned and stated that they had made an official complaint.On a number of occasions since I have heard similar comments and concerns from adopters who were saying that they felt a need and a desire to keep their child's status secret in certain situations.It surprises me greatly and I have to say that I am confused as to why any adoptive parent would feel a need not to be totally open and honest about their adoption in all circumstances, as surely that is an essential part of making an adopted child understand, appreciate and embrace exactly who they are.Isn't keeping a child's adopted status a secret suggesting it's something... well, to be ashamed of? I appreciate that ashamed may seem a little heavy, but to have a child - by default - denying they are adopted is far from instilling any sense of pride.Having something that you have to keep a secret because of what others may think can only be creating a degree of shame and no matter how open and honest you are around family and friends I can't see how it would fully eradicate that.I understand the reasoning - that is sets their child apart and that it may give bullies something to use - and I understand that a parent is supposedly trying to protect their child, but surely what is far more important it how the child feels about themselves.Regardless the fact that you are keeping it a secret means that you are potentially giving the bullies ammunition to use against your child, to them justifying their bullying. Teasing a child who is secure in an adopted family and secure in their knowledge of being adopted is surely going to have far less impact than teasing a child who has had a secret exposed.As gay adopters I am fully aware that we don't really have a choice over being 'out' as an adoptive family - as it's pretty self evident that it was unlikely to have happened naturally - and as such we are not faced with a choice over this. However, I should imagine we would be far less likely to decide to be anything other than fully open.Gay people know what it's like to live with a lie, we know how it confuses us and creates a shame - in some cases a self loathing - that is often with us for our entire life. We know how better it is when we 'come out' and live openly and freely as the people we are, when we face the world without fear or shame.Our sons at 7 and 8 declare their adopted status openly and freely to anybody and everybody, just as they declare that they have two daddies. They need to be proud of both and every time they state either fact they are acknowledging and affirming their pride. If they were encouraged to keep either fact a secret surely every time they stopped themselves from exposing it would diminish that pride.We know that as they get older and are with peers who have been fed prejudice and hatred that it may not be as easy to be so open and in fact that is exactly why they need to be so comfortable with it now, so they are prepared and can handle the possible abuse with knowledge and confidence.I think possibly the denial in some straight parents is far more to do with them and their journey to adoption. Declaring your child as adopted is possibly giving out a lot of very personal and intimate details about you, information that maybe just feels wrong sharing with anybody other than family and friends. However it is a reality and absolutely one to be proud of.

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