I remember the day I was adopted.
My Mum had bought me a skirt for this Big Occasion and I was – frankly – disgusted at the idea that I was wasting a perfectly good bonus day off school wearing such a hideous ensemble.
We went to court, and a judge asked me if I wanted to change my first name at the same time as I was changing my surname. And I was disgusted all over again that my Mum had never told me this was an option.
To be fair, this was probably quite a wise decision since if I’d realised that I got to choose an entirely new name, this blog would probably be written now by someone called Steve, who possibly would have spent a lot of time regretting her childhood choices.
When I was 10, I spent a lot of time wishing I was a) a boy and b) one of the Famous Five.
The next day I went back to school and realised my new surname rhymed with “Little”. And I was the shortest kid in my class.
Also, I’d been adopted into a family where this sort of photographic monstrosity was par for the course *shudders*
In case you’re wondering, this is not my Happy Face. There might have been tears involved in getting me into that dress.
Despite all of these traumas, I count my lucky stars that I was adopted.
For kids born today, adoption is an opportunity that might not come their way. Because the powers that be say that adoption should be a very last resort – something that’s considered only when every other option has been exhausted.
Honestly? I think that’s just stupid.
The reality is, some people aren’t up to the job of parenting, for all sorts of reasons. And some kids are better off being placed with families other than their birth families.
I was born to a very young Mum who’d got pregnant, married and separated within the space of 18 months. There were signs of mental health issues, that only increased over the years. There were multiple homes, multiple kids, multiple relationships.
Being adopted meant I was raised by a loving, pretty stable family with the time and resources to care for me, to nurture me, and support me until I became an adult – and quite some way beyond (thanks, Mum!). In every possible way, my life is better because I was adopted.
The experts say that there are alternatives for kids in care – like care orders, where children are cared for in long-term, temporary placements without the parents’ rights being terminated.
As someone who spent a good number of years in foster care, I think that’s a terrible idea. Uncertainty is a horrible thing to deal with as a child. I still remember the blind terror of being taken out by family friends and being convinced that I’d been handed over to new foster parents, and wouldn’t get to go home at the end of the day. Being adopted meant knowing that no matter what, I was always going to get to go home. That matters when you’re a kid.
I wondered if I’d feel differently about adoption when I had Flea but actually, I think it just makes me more grateful. Because I understand a little more, maybe, how hard it must be to give a child away for a chance they’ll have a good life. And I understand what an amazing gift it is to be able to love and raise a child you didn’t give birth to.
I thank my lucky stars that I have two mothers who did their best for me, in different ways. It’s just a shame that more kids won’t get the chance to feel the same.