Six Ways in which Adoptive Parents are Erased

1.  We are pixellated out of existence

Want to use Facebook?  You can’t.  Photograph going into the local paper?  Stop.  Want to write and blog about adoption?  You will have to create a clever alter-ego, cover your tracks, worry worry worry about being tracked down. 

2.  We are embarrassing

We are not able to take part in perfectly normal conversations.  ‘My little Billy spilt yoghurt down himself today and then said ‘bum’ to me, just like that, well I couldn’t believe it,’ is a common enough type of playground opener.  When normal in your home is dinner on the floor followed by ‘f*** off, I hate you, you’re not my real mother’ there is a lack of common ground.   And sharing experiences like this at social occasions is like throwing down a sack of tumbleweed.  Awkward does not even begin to describe it.  So we smile and learn to keep quiet.

3.  We have ‘naughty’ children 

Our children make friends with the one child in the school that all other parents warn their children against.  This makes our child socially off-limits.  This makes us socially off-limits too.  Our children will behave differently, they will struggle with relationships.  Our children will not get invited to parties.  You will have to witness the public giving out of the invitations, in the playground as you watch your child ‘putting on a brave face’.  The playground becomes a horrible horrible place to be, you dread it every day.   

4.  We are crazy

We all know that early neglect and abuse produces damaged children, don’t we?  No it seems that many teachers do not know this.  It seems that many doctors do not know this.  They express surprise when we seek help in managing our damaged children.  They tell us that our children are now in a loving home and should be alright by now. They blame us, we who have chosen to parent the abused.  They are the all-powerful.  We are the delusional, the attention-seeking, drama queens, the lots of us.  We are fobbed off with ritalin and antidepressants for f*** sake!  We are silenced.

5.  The adoption fiction

There are not enough adopters.  We are asked to help promote adoption.  Suddenly adoption is on the tele, in the newspapers, on the internet.  But hang on, what is all this kitch guff about angels being born in my heart, people look starry-eyed into the camera ‘my angels’ they gasp, ‘my family has been completed’.  Have they been medicated?  But their story is fluffy lovely and palatable.  Don’t tell the truth, people might not like it.

6.  We are tired

That hollow-eyed exhaustion, that punch bag brain feeling with which we are familiar is not a great social asset.  We turn down social invitations, if we ‘make an effort’ and go out we sit in silent oblivion or drink too much and become embarrassing. 

We attend meetings at school, trying to lobby for better support for our children, zombie-eyed, confirming the pre-conceptions that we are woolly brained, making a fuss.  We need maximum confidence when we are knackered and alone.


7 thoughts on “Six Ways in which Adoptive Parents are Erased

  1. Hi Sally
    I’m amazed you stopped at six ways…….

    How about “We become public property”

    “Doesn’t everyone know it’s just like being a normal parent, what’s all the fuss about?”
    “All kids do that, you’re just exaggerating.”
    “That just sounds like normal childhood behaviour to me.”
    “Kids are resilient aren’t they.”
    “He can’t possibly remember what happened before, he was much too young.”
    “If it doesn’t work, can you send him back?”
    “Does he call you Mum and Dad?”

    Yes, all of these things have been said to us or other adopters at one time or another. Not just by well-meaning strangers either, often by friends and family, often by the health professionals and social workers whose job it’s supposed to be to give us support…..

    • Hi Philip,
      To be honest I had a longer list but I feel a bit trapped between telling the brutal truth and not wanting to sound too negative about adoption. Your list is spot on, I’ve heard most of them, they trip off the tongue soooo easily. And what they all say, in their own way is ‘you lack perspective’, ‘you are making a drama out of this’, ‘you are rather quite a pathetic person who needs some back bone’.
      Thanks for returning to my blog. It all goes to show publishers that there is an interest in adoption and a demand for honestly written books on the subject.

  2. I love your take on ‘our’ lives! Sad as it is to read it was also funny.

    My child is an alien today – end of half term and 90% of the children walked out with friends going to play-dates and parties. I brought home the only child in the year group dressed in fancy dress (all the others have moved onto ‘regular’ party clothes), covered in foods I’ve yet to identify and crying due to not being invited anywhere and having wet underwear, again.
    All of the parents were desperate to ‘get off’ for a week of half term fun away from home…
    My answer was that even if we had the money, the thought of going on holiday after the transition to a new class and teacher and 7 weeks of utter hard work demanding behaviour I couldn’t think of anything worse than to drag our child to a holiday home that is unknown and would just replicate the last 2 months of life! No thank you, I’ll stay put and attempt to have a cuppa whilst my child gets through the next 10 days without school and a lot of help from us!

    (Great blog by the way!)

    • Sometimes I allow myself a grumpy smug moment, so here’s one – it’s going to rain over half term, all those busy holiday makers are going to be stuck on the motorway then holed up in damp holiday cottages, arguing and watching too much tele. Much better to be arguing and watching too much tele at home.

      On the friends front, we’ve been through the having no friends thing and it is horrible. I think they get through it eventually, but for now the important things are building feelings of safety, security and belonging in our families. The friends will come.

      Drink tea. Have some fun. Hope half term goes smoothly.

      Thanks for reading my blog.

  3. Thanks again for continuing blogs…I would like to comment..that having had the heartache in the past of infertitly, sadness of miscarriiage & IV..F whilst suffering from terrible Endemetriosis…I have come out of the other end by being very lucky by eventually having two children of my own…however, they each have their moments & challenges.., and whiils they are different from your blog it is good to know…no one is perfect..nothing is perfect and it never will be so I will keep reading…thanks for the special insight.

    • Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. I believe there are lots of parents out there who, for whatever reason, are not quite living the dream as it is so often presented. I’m glad that you can find something in the blog for you. I want it to appeal to everyone, not just adoptive parents.

  4. Reading this particular post is like you’ve been reading my mind. Its such a relief to know it isn’t only me!


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