It’s National Adoption Week between 17-23 October this year, and this year the campaign focuses on celebrating adoption by recognising and focusing on the significance of identity.
As part of the campaign, ‘You Can Adopt’, in partnership with Coram Adoption and other agencies, will explore adopted people’s reflections on their relationships from before, during, and after the adoption process and how they were able to connect them to their heritage and develop a sense of belonging/identity growing up.
Modern adoption is changing and recognises the need for children to have connections to their past, when safe to do so.
The ongoing relationships with birth relatives or friends (when safe and supported) can be crucial for adopted people to understand their identity.
Here in Slough we are proud to have supported the re-connection of adopted children with their birth relatives with the support of their adoptive families. One such family share their thoughts on the impact their direct contact has had for all involved;
“As an adopted parent I am eternally grateful to both you and M’s birth parents for the contact he has with them. I’m grateful that both our adopted sons have contact with their birth parents and siblings, they are raised knowing that a child can love more than one set of parents simultaneously without feeling any guilt.
In the space of a few weeks, M, despite his young age (5 at the end of June) has developed a bond with both C and N. He’s asked to speak with them on a few occasions, he’s recently learnt how to ride his bike, he was so excited about sharing this moment with us and them, together we were all able to share this moment.
In his own way, M understands that it might not always be possible to talk to them when he wants as they might be busy. C and N understand that all we want is what is best for M, I can’t begin to imagine how difficult it must be for them to have those telephone calls with him, we know that they both love him dearly and like us, they also want what is best for him. I’m sure they want to hug and kiss him when he tells them that he loves them to the moon and back, I know M does and I guess when the time is right that aspect of contact will also happen for him like it did for K and his birth parents and siblings.
This contact with them is more important than I can ever express in more ways than I know. I’m aware that there may be times when things get difficult but I wholeheartedly believe that communication is the key to any problem. C and I have become friends, I have made it clear to her that if I ever upset her, she should tell me without fear of losing contact with M as this won’t happen and likewise if we are ever upset about anything we will let her know. I have friends who have adopted and say they don’t think they could let their adopted child have contact with the birth family, I don’t understand that. The child is not an object who we own, he has needs, feelings and rights. I have friends who have told me that they think we should never have told the boys that they were adopted!!!!
Denying contact or not speaking about the birth family is almost like pretending that they don’t exist, we want our boys to be comfortable in their skin.”
To find out more about adoption, as well as read about other adoption stories and ways support is available, please visit coramadoption.org.uk.
Some of the adoption events taking place this week include:
- Wednesday 18th October 5.30-7pm (Coram Campus) Black and African Caribbean Families Information event hosted by Jennifer Kwakye and Christina Raduma
- Thursday 19th October 12.30-2.30pm Adoption Information Meeting.
- Saturday 20th October Adoption Activity Day (online via Zoom)
- PAC UK is also delivering a series of free online and in person events, which you might be interested in attending: https://www.pac-uk.org/pac-uk-national-adoption-week-2023-events/
In light of Black History Month, we are also taking an opportunity to raise awareness of adoption within black African and Caribbean communities, co-ordinated by one of our Coram Outreach Ambassadors.
In case you missed it, please see our most recent story in Keep the Faith magazine with one of our adoptive families (page 31): https://www.keepthefaith.co.uk/2023/10/03/keep-the-faith-issue-127/