Being a parent is never easy. For adoptive parents, the challenges can be even greater. The support needed to care for a child who hasn’t had the best start in life cannot be underestimated. Despite this, becoming an adoptive parent can be one of the most rewarding and life changing decisions that you will ever make.
Today (Monday 21 November) marks the beginning of Adoption Week in Scotland. Championed by my own organisation, Adoption UK, the week is a chance to showcase the range of service and opportunities available for prospective adoptive parents. In my daily role, I meet with adoptive families regularly and there is nothing more powerful than hearing directly from them as to the hurdles they have overcome and the successes they have had.
If a child’s wellbeing is compromised in the home, there needs to be early decisions made about what support they require in pursuit of a permanent and stable home. In Scotland, permanence can mean a number of things including: foster care, kinship and reunification with their families following an episode of care. Adoption is also a route to permanence. There are, however, still some common misconceptions surrounding adoption. I feel it’s important to dispel them here, to help encourage the next generation of adoptive parents:
Adoption Week will not only dispel these myths, but will also raise awareness about the range of support available to parents once they have been matched with a child. Training workshops, factsheets, a telephone help line, and peer support groups are just some of what we are providing.
Adoption, as a route to a permanent home for some children, can be transformative. ‘Therapeutic re-parenting’ is the term used to describe the parenting style pioneered by clinical psychologist Dan Hughes. It’s appropriate for children who have experienced separation from care givers/birth families, early trauma, abuse and neglect and are required to build trust and attachment. The technique is often used by adoptive parents to bond with their child.
A colleague of mine, Alison, recently summed up the journey of being an adoptive parent beautifully when she said:
“I saw photos of my twin son and daughter then aged 5 for the first time on my 40th birthday, sent by their foster parents. At last, an amazing end to over two years of preparation and waiting! Now they are both 18, taller than me, and my son is away at college and my daughter is working in the south of England – I am so proud as to what we have achieved as a family. We did have difficult times at the start, but with support and by learning the techniques of therapeutic re-parenting, we managed to turn things around. It was difficult to parent differently to the way we had been parented ourselves and sometimes against our instincts, but it worked. I would say to anyone considering adoption to just do it!”