As an adopter, looking back to the beginning I understood I’d been trusted with ‘The Keys To The City’.
Those keys represented a commitment to fight for this child. For this child’s rights to a life; a life after her early years, the decisions of state intervention, and the adoption process itself imposed on her a world of pain and trauma over which she had no choice. Each of those keys on that huge and heavy fob represents a life that forcibly handed her more than any person can cope with alone. The keys – I thought – were her pass to access everything she needs to help her through.
What I didn’t understand was that the responsibility for those keys would not be shared. That in truth doors would be closed, barred and locked before us; the keys would become mine and hers alone. Social services, support agencies, the state, doctors, teachers – all of those people that took decisions which culminated in a life of turmoil – would stop recognizing her past, her present and her future as in any way ‘their responsibility’ from the moment those keys were handed on to me. As if she had suddenly become a different child. As if she no longer needed those keys. As if adoption alone had become the answer – their answer – to the chaotic life their decisions had once taken a part in creating.
I do not understand this. I do not understand how the fight I was trusted with also includes fighting for support from the institutions who time and time again work against her, add to her trauma. Institutions that now see her as the problem. Institutions who choose to forget what made this child, and their role in that.
When ‘the process of adoption’ allows society to relinquish the keys and close the doors to our children’s progress, then it’s time to question the process of adoption.
Because it takes more than one set of Keys To The City to make a difference.