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Adoption Week Part 1. Not the Step Forward I’d Imagined

It has been adoption week this week, and as someone with three adopted children, I thought I should add my tuppenyworth to the discussion and share some of my “ranty wisdom”.  I will also do a jollier post later this week about more of the positives.

I felt like taking my remote control and throwing it at the TV when I began to see some of the coverage that adoption was getting this week.  The Cameron man on the telly moaning on about the process just got my back up, but that’s not unusual for me.

And to top it off, my hackles rose when I watched the segment about the woman complaining about the process and how long it takes to be assessed here, but who had plenty of dosh and managed to find the readies to go abroad and adopt the youngster she wanted.

Now don’t get me wrong, I would have gone abroad if I hadn’t managed to find my forever children in the UK, but come on, complaining about the system you have to follow to get those children is just plain wrong if you don’t even adopt from here.

Let me tell you about how the adoption process was before they made it that little bit tougher.  We went overnight from no children to 3 children who were not fully socialised.  Foetal alcohol babies are hard work, I can tell ya.  Imagine your trouble with a crying baby with colic who doesn’t sleep, and multiply that by a factor of 1000 x 1000 with knobs on and that could be the potential.

All those wannabe mums out there think that a little bit of love is going to make it all right – well it doesn’t.  Those cute little bundles may very well end up as aggressive, troubled tots who don’t get the help they need to survive.  Lots of families disrupt, even now when they can’t cope with the changes that children with high needs means.

Make no mistake, if you have a diagnosis of Autism, or an “acceptable” condition, the world will sympathise and help you with your children.  If your children have a diagnosis of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome or your child is Drug affected, you are going to hit your head up against a brick wall to get help.  And if you do say what the diagnosis is, people will think you are a raving alcoholic and start crossing the street and avoiding your kids party invites.

The bottom line is that most of the young children in care nowadays are disabled, alcohol or drug related births.  There are some who are orphans or young mums not wanting the responsibility, but they are certainly not the norm, and potential parents HAVE to get it through their heads that love is NOT enough to bring up drug and alcohol affected children.

I HATED the adoption process.  With an enormous passion.  I thought it was too long and I thought it was ridiculously monotonous and repetitive, but the authorities HAVE to try to suss out as many of the nutters who try to adopt for other reasons as they can.  If they handed over kids to a ring of child abusers, we would all be up in arms that the process wasn’t comprehensive enough.

Lets get down to the nitty gritty.  Adoptions take so long because there is NOT ENOUGH MONEY in the pot to get the work done that needs to be done to keep everyone safe.   Social workers have too many groups to assess, and to be frank, lots of approved adoptive parents sit waiting for the phone to ring rather than being pro-active and finding their future kids across the country.  There are also some fabulous homes not being used because there are not enough staff to get the meetings set up, organised, pulled together and finalised.

I do think the inflated considerations about race and ethnic backgrounds are pretty crap to be honest.  Lets just chuck kids into uncontrolled and often violent childrens homes eg just because they might be black and christian and a council only has white protestant adoptive parents on their books.

If I get the religions wrong, I apologise – as being a non-believer I just don’t care what religion anyone else is as long as they don’t try to sell me their faith.  That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t happily support a child who needed to learn more about their own faith and culture.

I’d like to see the kids put into homes that will stick with them through thick and thin, support their race and ethnic backgrounds, and to hell with the rules of what colour skin, race or nationality we should be before we can help a child escape from institutionalisation, temporary parents and abusive homes.

After care is rubbish.  Yes, there are “supposed rights” but considering post adoptive care says there is no money in the pot to provide anything, then it really is an empty promise unless it is desperate in my experience.

I am afraid that the negativity far outweighed the positivity that it should have showed, and would put people off finding out more, or moving forward with a process that needs to be shored up.

Right down to basics, adoption is about being parents.   In the same way that parents take on responsibility for children and have to fight for their needs, there is nothing different.    There is no special treatment in being an adopter once you are there so think about it long and hard, and treasure the preparation process because it is there for a reason.

If Mr Cameron wants to make the system work, stop complaining and support the Councils who are mostly doing their best with the means they have at their disposal (money, people and imposed rules) and ringfence pots of money for adoption and disability.

Yes, there are problems and yes, there are always nasty people who don’t do their jobs right, or get in the way of things happening, but they are in the minority.

I saw those segments, and rather than feel good about what was being said, I was conscious that if I were a new potential adopter, that it would massively put me off if I thought that the system was as difficult to breach as it sounded.

Mr Cameron needs to put his money where his mouth is to find alternative methods of moving adopters through the system and helping approve positive matches for families with support to help families cope with the potential problems they will face.

I’ve said my piece and now I will settle back and sort out my three adopted boys photos for christmas cards.   The whole process was worth every rotten moment it took to get through.


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Fabulous Food Find – HUGE Watermelon from Costco

Fabulous food find today was a HUGE – SEEDLESS watermelon from Costo in Aberdeen at £2.99.       Absolutely fabulous and the kids are hugely impressed with how much there is in the bowl after I sliced it all up to put it in the fridge for nibbles.

Watermelon works out at about 30 calories per 100g (according to my iphone diet calorie checker).    A whole kg worth of water melon would only set me back 300 calories.  Now that is a stomach filling prospect.



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The Lure of the BMX Bike – Peer Pressure at Work

 My eldest wanted a new bike at christmas, but it couldn’t just be any bike.  It had to be a BMX.   The reason for that was that he wanted the “cool” badge at school by having one.    He also wanted to be able to start doing stunts, and needed a bike that you can turn the handlebars right round in a 360 degree circle without any cables getting in the way.

I think it looks ridiculous to see those big lads on those teensy bikes, but that’s what he wanted, and thanks to a sale in a toy shop, that’s what he got.  He is happy as larry, and enjoys spending time with his BMX.

What it also raises is the red flag of the peer pressure and how it affects our children when they are only really very young.  Right from babies, on TV there are adverts aimed at them.  Cereals, sweets, toys from October onwards, and there seems little we can do to shield them from it. 

Even if we self consciously ban TV channels that carry the adverts, and keep them away from films and programmes that we don’t approve of – they still ARE going to find out all about them in the most gory sense of the words, and without the benefit of censoring.

School playgrounds and parks are hotbeds of gossip, slander, and peer pressure.  If you are at a non-uniform school and happen to wear the wrong trainers, the consequences can wound you past adulthood.

When my children were very young, I decided that I would not bow to peer pressure, and that my children would wear what I bought them and be done with it. 

Several years on, I am glad that there are some discount sports shops and ways to get hold of sports gear and shoes at reasonable prices, or I would struggle to meet the demands that our children place on themselves, AND have placed upon them by others.

Yes, there is the argument that there are children worse off than ours, and that ours should be grateful for what they have.   I have had a lot to do with disadvantaged children, and believe me, that argument won’t hold water with your children, or stand up when they are being made a fool of by the children who “have”.

Our children live in the socio economic circles of their peers (in most cases).   They can no more understand the difficulties surrounding children who have little, than we can understand how our great great grandmothers cleaned and cooked and provided for families of 14 children or more in two rooms.  

What we can do, is try to keep it within reason, and not try to keep up with the children who will always have everything.  Most of those children who get everything will never appreciate the value of their money, or the ability to manage a budget (you know the ones, with every new product going, and a new toy nearly every day).

I have accepted that my children can not match many of those children, but I provide for some of the things that they “need” to be accepted when it fits my budget.   The right trainers are do-able at the discount sports shops, as are some football kits.  I buy the football boots in the sales and stock up on the next sizes.   I don’t go overboard, and if my kids had their way, they would have every game console and game that is on the market (and believe me some of their friends do have that). 

There are times that we have to accept the peer pressure, and work within it to give our children the self-esteem that they need to live among their peers, but also be responsible enough not to let them be the pampered brats that grow up respecting nobody. 

It’s a fine line between showing off and being practical.  Sadly, it is the children who always end up at the end of it, suffering at either end of the scale.  The middle ground to me, has to be the right place to be.

Where do you sit in the debate?