It’s National Adoption Week in England and this year the theme is adopting siblings; two, three or maybe even four. I have only two. Here’s my National Adoption Week so far. Please be warned that on our scale, this counts as pretty uneventful.
I have my first ever session of Reiki. I chose Reiki because it’s 50 minutes of lying still and you get to keep your clothes on. If I had a full body massage I think my skin might come off. The Reiki woman says afterwards, ‘I sense you’ve had enough of explaining and talking’ and I spontaneously cry.
I meet one of my children in town. It’s something I try and make happen every week. We buy food in one of the only shops that hasn’t issued a banning notice. Then we go to the benefits office. The woman we see is kind and there is no judgement. Later I drive my child and two bags of food back to the hostel.
I see something of the lives of young people who have no one to shop for them, check in with them, catch them when they fall, grieve with them, fight for them, keep them in mind and it’s a reminder, despite its many imperfections, of what is valuable about adoption. Later I catch up with Woman’s Hour. June Sarpong says ‘you cannot be what you cannot see’ and I think ‘yeah, that’s more or less it in a nutshell’.
A letter arrives requesting that my youngest child take part in some research. The research has nothing and yet everything to do with adoption. Only a handful of kids in that particular school year were selected. What were the chances?! I send a ‘no thank you’ email. Child is anxious until I send the ‘no thank you email’.
I respond to a document – the output of a committee I’ve taken part in. I ask if we could please nail down the rights and respect that should be afforded to ‘primary carers’. I also ask that ‘OBE’ be added after my name. I feel like a dick for asking. At the same time I’m so over being the sub-service user/sub-client/sub-whatever.
A friend contacts me in despair. Her child is out of control. Dangerous. Threatening. Disappearing. A passing professional takes the child’s word over her’s, not understanding that trauma has its bloody hands on the wheel. I’m reminded why I’m hoarse with asking for primary carers to be listened to and respected.
I’m asked if I would do it again. Adopt. My answer is more measured than it used to be. It’s gone from a bountiful and glowing ‘YES!’, to a ‘yes but’. It’s ‘yes’ so long as there was a locked-in promise of life-long support and a much bigger dose of honesty during the preparation stage and beyond. As I’ve said before, I thought I was setting off on pleasant country ramble. What I got was an ultra-marathon I wasn’t equipped for.
We go to the palace; me, my husband and our youngest child. My child says ‘I’m so proud of you mum’ and I explain I can’t imagine myself without the love, the experience and the knowledge that both of them have given me. Then, ‘I’m so glad you’re my mum.’ We have a day that despite being tinged with loss is beyond amazing.