In 1926 adoption became legal and regulated. Fast forward nearly 100 years and 3570 children were adopted in the UK in 2019. Estimates though suggest that right now there are more than 6000 children waiting. Although many people think about a baby when considering adoption, older children and teens also need loving homes. These young people, who may have had a tough start in life, are waiting for a sense of safety and belonging that an adoptive family can offer.
Andy Peck, Dad to adopted teen boys shares his adoption journey:
There are of course many reasons for adopting children.
Of course it’s a lovely thing to give children a start in life that they would not have in a foster home.
Of course the fabric of society is enhanced by good healthy families and anything we can do to support that is for the good.
And for some there is the joy of bringing a child from an impoverished situation overseas to their home.
In our case it was pretty much the classic one of not being able to have children ourselves and wanting to share our love with children. It wasn’t that we couldn’t have children – there was apparently no physical impediment but after 10 years of ‘trying’ and two courses of IUI it hadn’t happened and we figured was unlikely to. But with this initial impulse a number of things became clear which had we hadn’t expected.
Adopting isn’t like having your own children
The first is that though legally adopted children are our children it isn’t like having your own children. We were disabused of this notion early in the process at an investigation morning for potential adoptive parents. We heard some stories of how parents had to manage their children amidst the calls on their time from the extended family. It was clear that along with being a parent, you are also a manager and a negotiator. As it happened in our case there was just letter box contact once a year and another sibling to keep in touch with. But it’s a reminder that you are writing a story in a book that has already begun and not particularly well. As our lads are in their mid-teens it is apparent that their predisposition to certain behaviours were laid down way before we met them.
Loving new parents or strangers?
The second aspect is that while we see ourselves as loving parents and our peers are enthusiastic about how lucky our lads will be to have us, in truth we are at the beginning of adoption strangers to two lads who have been through a lot and are being extracted from a foster home that has given them a semblance of normality for a few years. In time of course they have been thrilled to be with us, but it’s easy to underestimate how early years experience of life with their birth parents make the attachment to a new parent(s) a hazardous process. If all this sounds negative it’s just meant to paint a real picture of some of the myths surrounding the whole process.
Looking back one of the reasons for adopting was not apparent, and indeed isn’t apparent in most parenting.
It’s not a pleasant one to identify.
Parenting challenges you at the very depths of your being. You are brought face to face with your own prejudices’ preferences and at times selfishness. “Look why can’t you just see the world as I see it?” you secretly think to yourself as you explain just why their course of action is daft and yours is brilliant. Hence having children is part of character development and learning.( I of course hastily add that singleness, and childlessness are also perfectly valid states and also have challenges that also develop character) .
As a Christian the process of adopting and fatherhood have given me fresh insights into God who lovingly lets us make mistakes and choose to love Him back for all his kindness. But I believe this lesson would be true for you if you have no particular faith: having children to look after is good for us and a blessing.
In case you are wondering, and as I have hinted in the blog, the boys have been an enormous blessing to us. More of which in another blog.
About the Author
Andy Peck is father to adopted teenage boys and hosts ‘The Leadership File’ on Premier Christian Radio