When CHT and I were brought together, I thought I knew what I was doing.
I knew it would be hard. I knew it would ask more of me than I dared to imagine. I knew she would be demanding, and intense, and oh so worth all the struggle. And I knew there would be tears shed, blood spilled – and a whole world of laughing. I even had an idea that my foresight showed only the tip of the challenge to come.
What I didn’t know is that I was effectively ‘adopting’ a whole bunch of challenging adults alongside her.
These kids come with an entourage fit for a Diva – foster carers, social workers, educational psychologists, teachers, post adoption support workers, reviewing officers, and more. This unwieldy group of people are there to help. Except, they don’t, not most of them, and certainly not in the long run. Yes, I write this while totally torqued after yet another dead end meeting, but for all the support you get, it seems that you have to invest at triple the time, money and effort.
I experience their help as leaving me ‘minussed out’; worse off than I began. Why do these people - in principle there to help – me make me work so hard when I am already stretched to my limit coping with a distressed and torn up child? I feel like I carry them all on my back.
Pleading for their understanding, pushing for action, chasing up progress; this ‘support’ leaves me exhausted, more stressed and burdened than I started, and frustrated at the plans and promises that come to nothing.
There is a gaping chasm between the knowledge of so many specialist adoption professionals, and the barefaced day to day reality of adoptive parents and adoptees.
Where is the unspoken recognition of our problems and dilemmas from the specialists whose job it is to understand these issues? Why are we made to fight so hard to make our voices heard by the very people whose purpose it is to fight our family’s corner? Why is it so unclear what support is available for us? Why do the doors not willingly open when we ask for the help, respite, and the training we so dearly need?
Our words fall on deaf ears, and then worse still, there comes ‘that look’.
You must know the one. It comes partway into explaining something about your family/situation/child. It comes accompanied by a glance at a watch, and through slightly glazed eyes that judge you, and write you off as pushy, or annoying, or exaggerating. It is the look that dismisses you in a heartbeat as suffering from some adoption version of Munchausen by proxy.
The whole process strips me bare. It can also leave me riddled with self doubt, and with less of myself to give to the all important task I was trusted with; parenting my beloved and inspirational CHT.
Change must come.