Yesterday Fraser McAlpine wrote a piece for The Guardian Comment is Free in which he paints a less than generous picture of adopters. We are queasy, infertile, middle-class folk who seek a ready-made Boden child to fit neatly into the void we have constructed for them to fill. We catalogue shop for our child, casting aside an unflattering picture or a ‘working class’ name , ‘not thinking too hard about it’. Yes, we are like an army of Katie Hopkins blindly trying to make the world conform to our narrow view of it. ‘Tarquin’ we say to each other ‘if only he was called Tarquin I would fit in so much better in the prep school playground’. We try to erase our child’s history and culture because it doesn’t fit with our hygienic middle-class standards. We are ashamed of where our children come from. And in never quite accepting them, we in turn will shame our children.
‘You have to ask yourself who is adopting whom. Whose needs are being met here, and where are the grownups?’ he says from on high. He sits on an adoption panel you see, judging these feckless idiots who come before him shopping for a child.
Adopters, and I am one, have for too long been gagged and shushed and told to get on with it. There are often numerous complex security issues which prevent us from speaking out, we are isolated from each other geographically and isolated from a society in general which has a low-level of understanding of the long-term damage done to a child by early neglect and abuse. Our families are an uncomfortable reminder, best left hidden, that people abuse their children And we are often knackered and tearful and emotional. Caring for a traumatised child is very, very hard. It doesn’t leave many adopters best placed to refute offensive and prejudiced articles like Fraser McAlpine’s. We have perhaps ourselves become a void which others can fill with their straw men and straw women, hideous characters of wild imaginings, who have been created to be sneered at and misjudged. And oh what fun to liken us to Katie Hopkins. It makes so many more people instantly dislike us.
I can’t be bothered to dispute the straw woman. She is a ridiculous construction and I’ve got more important battles to fight.
Through social networking sites and blogs, adopters and adoptees are starting to connect with each other, to share experiences, to offer each other support and to learn from each other. It is a strong community which explores the dark times as well as the good. It is honest, welcoming and above all else very funny. And although we come from all walks of life (no, not just the middle class) what draws us together is the similarity in our experiences and the overwhelming feeling that our families are misunderstood and ill-served. We kicked up a bit of a storm in our small but enthusiastic patch of twitter last night over Fraser McAlpine’s piece. We decided that he knows jack shit about us. From now on, we’d rather speak for ourselves. Our new blogging hub The Adoption Social is one of the places we do and rather well.
Well said! And thank you for sticking up for us. The Guardian should commission you….regularly.
fabulous post and response. thank you
Keep up the good fight Sally! Here! Here! Amanda.
Brilliantly put. I’m just sad I missed the Twitter debate but I’m too busy changing my newly adopted son’s name…..ok only joking, I’m too busy learning to be a mum to two, although this has raised me out of my bleary eyed stupor enough to also write about this whole name thing.
“There are often numerous complex security issues which prevent us from speaking out, we are isolated from each other geographically and isolated from a society in general which has a low-level of understanding of the long-term damage done to a child by early neglect and abuse.”
Thanks for all your comments. Much appreciated.
We’ll see where we go from here.
Hear bloody hear