To say I have procrastinated for around three weeks ahead of writing this is somewhat an understatement. I love telling my story about the love, care and support my adoptive family have given me over the past 22 years; the only barrier I face when telling my story, is my audience’s misconception about adoption. If you Google the word adoption and click on news, you are faced with all the horror stories of adoption, the statistics against the vulnerable children who may present challenging behaviour, following the difficult circumstances of their early years. When my audience are those who are exploring adoption or individuals asking out of curiosity, I already know what the other is thinking. They are expecting the horror story, the stats; their prior exposure to adoption simply negative.
I often wonder when the topic of adoption will no longer receive an uneasy response from people at a dinner party, or within a work place. Half a million British mothers are thought to have had their children taken from them in the 1950s, 60s, 70s and early 80s because of social disapproval towards unmarried mothers. As a result, birth mothers and adopted children carried shame. I believe this uncomfortable history affects attitudes towards adoption today, meaning the word adoption carries negative connotations and the victims, the innocent children are overlooked. I hope my story can start positive conversations, my story, like many other adopted children is one of love, support and care. A childhood of warmth, positivity and opportunities which have led to many wonderful life experiences and a confidence to live my life as an adult. Yes, there have been struggles along the way, but I wouldn’t necessarily say there are more struggles than any other child, but different struggles, such as trying to understand my identity.
I was adopted at the age of three, along with my brother Josh, who was seven at the time, to our new Mummy and Daddy, Lesley and Chris. We made the move from the Isle of Wight to Southampton, into a wonderful, loving family with an extra brother and sister already waiting for us. The reason for our adoption was because our birth mother was unable to cope with looking after us, due to mental health problems. Not long after our adoption, Clare gave birth to twins. Izzy and Ellie who were adopted to another family, who lived just down the road in Romsey.
Growing up, Josh and I were the best of friends. I always knew in my belly that no matter what happened, Josh would be there. Even if I got him into trouble, Josh was there. My person. I can’t describe the bond even to this day and I still feel as though my whole world could come crashing down and everything would somehow be okay, because I have my big brother, Josh. Josh and I are opposite in nature, he has always been super smart and reserved, whereas I have always been somewhat, overbearing…
Josh and I had the same childhood as every other ‘normal’ family. We had summer holidays, two wonderful dogs which we took on many walks and we were loved very much by our adoptive parents. We played 99 In with our neighbours, Crash Bandicoot on the Sega mega drive and Josh often cheated when we played Monopoly. Also, just like the other kids in school, if we didn’t do our homework, we were grounded and the Sega mega drive was confiscated! Although there were similarities in our childhoods to other children, there were differences. Not every other kid in school would sit down at the end of their summer holidays and write a letter to Mummy Clare, telling her our favourite subject for that year or where we had been on holiday that summer. I remember the first year I understood who Mummy Clare, the reader of my letter was. I remember crying so much I could barely breathe. How could it be that I had another Mummy?
Other differences, were in the form of physical differences. My mum and my niece, who was a similar age to me, would look at similarities in their hands or feet and it would break my heart. That was something I was never going to have with my Mummy and Daddy who I loved so very much. However, we did meet up with our little sisters, Izzy and Ellie every so often, which meant a solid few hours of being in awe and slightly creeped out at having people who did look like us. We were siblings and we all knew we were one of the same; our mannerisms and interests, so similar it united us, despite not having the conventional sibling relationship.
As we grew older, the relationship between the four of us siblings grew closer and even to this day we still find it incredible and incredibly odd that despite never living together, our behavioural and personality traits are so similar. We often have the nature/nurture argument, which has allowed us to come to terms in our own ways with who we are and although we have wonderful adoptive families, we are so lucky to have a unique family in the four of us. Our relationships aren’t conventional, so I suppose the media would have it right that adoption is different, but is it a negative to feel like the luckiest humans on planet Earth, when in the company of our own siblings? My sisters and I often find ourselves joking that we could just be around one another, or sat in silence and the time would be just perfect because we would be with each other. Josh, would most likely take a slightly different stance and say, ‘it’s alright’.
By the time I was in my early twenties, I had worked in investment banking for five years. I had skipped into university as society expected at 18 and skipped straight back out seven months later, perhaps not as society expected. I was looking for my purpose and I found that in working. After working hard for five years, I found myself at a loss. I had achieved what I had hoped to achieve, working for Credit Suisse in Canary Wharf, but I became so disinterested and I was drinking heavily as a result. I decided to move back to Dorset to live with my parents. It was here, that I decided to get some help. An internal battle I had with adoption, was always trying to make others happy and proud of me, ultimately ignoring my own feelings. I had a completely irrational fear of being rejected and sent back – although what this meant for a 25-year-old I’m not too sure! After 8 months of counselling, I set about pursuing what made me happy. I now work for a local charity and volunteer for Families for Children, an organisation helping those going through the adoption process and long after the adoption has taken place. The reason I wholly believe in Families for Children, is because of the support they provide families far into the future, long after the adoption has taken place. I was 25 when I needed support to understand who I was and to accept and embrace my identity, it could have been sooner or it could have been later in life.
Adoption is a beautiful, crazy thing. It gives light, life and hope to wonderful young people that are yet to flourish. It provides a safe environment for children, their personalities and their brains to grow. All children should be given the opportunity to become the best that they can be. My brother and I hit the jackpot with Mum and Dad, we were lucky, but there are so many incredible people out there waiting to be loved, adoptive parents and children alike.
I hope you see my story as an honest account of a three-year-old girl, wanting to be loved. I hope you see my story as an honest account of a 25-year-old woman who has been given the love and security she needed to become a strong and content woman.