National Adoption Week rolls on.
Out in the big wide world this means that people who rarely come across anything adoption-related may well have noticed it not only popping up on their Breakfast TV screens, and then getting a mention in the radio as they drive into work later, but also appearing on their Facebook feed and in their daily paper.
Inside the adoption universe, where I seem to spend a disproportionate amount of time (particularly for someone who hasn’t actually adopted!) National Adoption Week seems to mean an explosion of blog posts and tweeting, Twitter friends starring in media appearances and award ceremonies, and heightened expressions of sensitivity and mixed feelings.
This year’s theme, siblings, has hit a nerve for many.
As a potential singly adopter, searching for my future family with all the mixed emotions and wide criteria I wrote about earlier in the week, I find myself avidly following different conversations and themes, skipping from opinion piece to research finding, Twitter rant to policy pronouncement.
With so much material to digest and deliberate upon, I am trying hard to review everything I hear with as balanced a perspective as I can. Dispassionate wouldn’t be quite the right word: which prospective adopter, seeking their own future family, can read of hurting brothers and sisters playing out their embedded destructive re-traumatising behaviours and view that with neutrality and disconnection? Equally which future adopter reading of children speaking up for their family life and the core role played in their sense of safety, kinship and love by their sisters and brothers even wishes to feel untouched and unmoved?
Every insight adds to my learning. Every story teaches me a little more about myself and lets me glimpse yet another snapshot of a possible future. Every anecdote reminds me of the very individuality of each child, their experiences, history, grief and happiness, and of course their complex dynamics with the people they see as their brothers and sisters (who may live with them or may not, and may be blood relatives and/or share a name or may not).
Yet despite this commitment to listening and learning, to reading and thinking, to accepting the truth may be uncomfortable: it has felt a long week. And I’ve noticed I’m not the only one who feels like this.
Yesterday I spotted a tweet where a prospective adopter commented “Finding this an incredibly difficult week to be on here” going on to say later how helpful the honesty of so many adopters has been this week (“the best prep for adoption that I have experienced”) but also how hard some of what they share is to hear (“Just got a bit overwhelming for me I think”). (As these views were shared in a conversation I wasn’t actually part of I won’t name anyone involved in case they don’t want to be named!)
Today @sallydwrites, a minor celebrity in the world of adoption, commented on her Twitter feed that “NAW is always way harder than I think it’s going to be” – and had many replies expressing similar weariness and frustration.
I have said before how privileged I feel to be accepted as an honorary member of the adoption universe by so many people who are themselves muddling through such challenging times. For me (admittedly not helped by my own mad #NaBloPoMo challenge) it has been as if the same people I see all the time have suddenly been thrust blinking under bright lights – and inevitably perhaps quite a few are shielding their eyes and squinting! For others in my boat yes it has indeed been great learning; but we all need time to digest, sift and process too.
Yes it is intense, full-on, challenging: all these can be great emotions that make you feel life is truly being lived. However perhaps for those who live such emotions every day (amid frustration, hyper behaviour, communication difficulties, school challenges, you name it – not to mention all the joys of normal child-centred lives too) I suspect that just now nothing would be more welcome than two weeks away from any limelight in a darkened room with a duvet and hot water bottle. In fact now I mention it that sounds attractive even for those of us who don’t (yet?) live in the eye of this particular maelstrom!
In the USA they seem to have National Adoption Month – so they still have over three weeks to go. Just now I’m glad I live in the UK…