What can I tell prospective adopters about parenting via adoption? Or the TOO LONG post.

  1. You will be drawn to and feel a kinship towards other adoptive families.

    It never occurred to me beforehand that adoptive families might have anything in common.  I couldn’t imagine feeling much in common with families who’s children were delivered by caesarian section just because mine was.  But it isn’t that simple.  Adopting is a shared experience despite being different in every case and even those people that you feel little kindred spirit for somehow manage to feel part of your club.  Perhaps its because getting through the process in the UK seems like such an ordeal, maybe it’s some kind of survivors club?  Strangely you also develop some kind of sixth sense for adopters and end up finding out who in the mini rugby team was adopted and chatting to their dad on the touchline despite the fact that neither of you initially mentioned adoption.  You just appeared to work it out without the word actually being mentioned.

  2. You will become anointed by a sizable minority.

    Prepare yourself for (in breathy tones) – “You’re sooooo Amazing/Marvellous/Worthy” (delete as appropriate).  I have tried any number of approaches to this over the years (yes 8 years later I still get this)… “Oh no, shucks not me”, “No I’m not, it’s a very selfish decision really, I just desperately wanted a child for me” but have settled quite happily on my current and longest lasting… “Yes I am.  For so many reasons that I couldn’t even begin to list them all”.

    What some people don’t seem to get is that you can only “save” a child once.  After that its all just parenting.

  3. People will lose all sense of restraint and ask you questions and make comments that make your jaw drop.

    Being in front of your child won’t deter them, so practise your responses now:

    “What do you know about his real parents?”
    “How much did he cost?”
    “He’s so lucky”
    “Why did his real parents give him away?”
    “Exactly what problems does he have?”

    Junior and I practise saying “That’s private” followed by if appropriate “My mum says I don’t have to talk about that if I don’t want to.

    Please realise that your child will need “permission” to decline to tell an adult information.  They are so conditioned to respond to an adult.  I tell Junior – “People are curious about adoption and that’s OK because they don’t come across it often.  But being curious doesn’t mean that you have to tell them”.

    We work on the principle of “private not secret” and if people want to discuss private stuff that’s fine but they have to go first!

  4. Some people will never understand.

    “I could never love someone the same way who wasn’t related to me by blood” – that must come as a bit of a shock to your husband! (Yes I do get that child vs partner is different but I couldn’t think of a better analogy.)
    “DNA matters” – of course it does, but is it the only thing that matters?

    In fact I’ve come to the conclusion that for some people these things really do matter above all else.  Or at least they think they do.  In fact until your certainty is tested in the fire of reality you have no idea.  Most people don’t have to consider how important genes are to them, or blood, or looking like Auntie May.  Those of us who have had to come to a decision of just how important these things are versus the desire to nurture and teach and build a family realise that you can never say never.  But some people will never accept or understand that and it really isn’t worth the energy of trying to explain how much you love your wonderful non-genetically-related marvelous child because they really can’t understand.

    And they are all the poorer for it.

  5. Apparently there are about 1,000,000 prospective adopters waiting in the wings.

    Also known as “I planned to adopt but…”We didn’t have enough bedrooms
    My husband didn’t want us to
    We rent our house
    We don’t earn enough
    It wouldn’t be fair on our children/cat/dog/gerbil

    Yes well I planned to run the marathon but….

    I didn’t.

  6. Life can be normal.

    OK it might be a different kind of normal but its my kind of normal.

  7. Check all chapters in the “How Your Body Works” book.

    Because trust me, the chapter on “How do I know this is my real family” followed by an explanation of shared characteristics and DNA is really not helpful.  Not even a teensy bit.

With apologies to Great Auntie May who no-one in our family wants to look like.

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