Today, at midday, J and I will attend the christening of a little girl whose adoptive mum I was first in touch with when J was only eight. We were brought together – and strangely I don’t remember who introduced us or exactly when – because she was a prospective single adopter and someone, somewhere, thought it would be useful for us to talk.
There is something very magical about the adoption community. They were there for me when I was right at the beginning of my adoption journey. Soon after I’d told her about my desire to adopt, my mother introduced me to friends of hers who’d adopted babies in the 1970s. The children, born in England of single Indian mothers, had battled with racism as they grew up with their white adoptive parents in rural Sussex, and had sometimes struggled at school. Their mother had been active in supporting other adoptive parents as an Adoption UK volunteer. Nowadays, adopted children in the UK mostly come from a background of neglect and/or abuse, and many of the issues we deal with are quite different to those of my mum’s friend’s generation. Early on, I also met a friend of my sister’s, whose adopted son, still at primary school, was receiving therapy to help him come to terms with his early life experiences. He was regressing, with challenging behaviours you’d normally expect from a toddler. That’s something I also saw later in my own son, and it helped to have met someone who’d had a similar experience.
I learned from these parents, and many others I have met over the years, that none of our journeys are exactly the same. What we have in common is that our children’s life experiences are special and different, and sometimes truly dreadful, and we mostly need professional support from knowledgeable teachers, social workers and therapists, to be able to properly help our children to thrive and move on. But such adoption support is inconsistent and often unavailable. Meanwhile, adoptive parents continue to rely on each other for advice and support, often facilitated by friends and family, or by organisations and charities such as Adoption UK, the Adoption Social, and the Open Nest.
Today, we will meet again a woman whose path first crossed ours eight years ago. Today, she is a mother, watching her child take part in a ceremony that she would most likely not have experienced if she had remained in care. Together they will stand in the warm heart of their own magical, caring community of friends and family, and celebrate.