I mentioned last week that I started doing some research into adoption. In this post I’ve listed some of the blogs, books, and forums that have helped us understand the journey we’re on and prepare us (intellectually at least) for what’s to come. I do worry that I’ve possibly read too much, both online and in books, so do be careful that you don’t overwhelm yourself with too much reading.
Blogs - One of the things that’s encouraged me to start this blog is the support and information Tom and I have found through following blogs. Keith from the agency first told me about Sally Donovan’s blog, which led me to The Adoption Social (TAS), which led me to hundreds of others. Each week TAS sends out the best blogs so you can get a real sense of what’s going on in adoptive families. Here are some (among many) of the ones that I really like - Misadventures of an Adoptive Dad, We Are Family, Three Bees and a Honey, Suddenly Mummy and last but not least the musical Gareth Marr.
I follow many of these bloggers on twitter and they have all been happy to answer questions, lend support when needed, or simply 'like' my thoughts - so thank you to all of them!
Books - Every social worker I’ve spoken to has had their own ideas about which books you should read. There’s a book list in the Stage One information pack, another in the Preparation Days information pack, and another on the agency’s website. I have probably read more books on a single topic this year than I did in my three years at university (admittedly I did drama so it’s not that surprising). Anyway, here are my mini reviews on the books…
No Matter What by Sally Donovan – This is a great read. It’s honest and full of hope, joy and sadness. It brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face in equal measure. It was brilliant to hear about an actual adoptive parent’s journey. I found out about the book through Sally’s blog.
The Pink Guide to Adoption by Nicola Hill – The first half outlines the law and how it affects adopting as a gay or lesbian couple. This was very helpful from a practical point of view. The second half is full of case studies of gay and lesbian couples adopting children. This was really helpful to see that it has been done before, and most importantly it has been done successfully. I found this book on the internet when I first started investigating adoption.
The Primal Wound by Nancy Verrier – I really struggled with this book. The premise is that babies create a bond with the birth mother in utero and if the child is separated at birth a wound is created that is devastating to the child’s development. Whilst I completely accept that early childhood trauma seriously affects children’s emotional and intellectual development, my issue with the book is that it talks mainly about children being relinquished by birth mothers at the time of birth. From everything I’ve been told about the types of children on the adoption register in the UK, it's incredible rare for a child to be relinquished at birth nowadays that the information seems slightly redundant. There's very little mention of childhood traumas beyond the separation itself. It also mainly talks about a woman taking over the caring role and that men have little to do with this side of things. All in all not that helpful for Tom and me. The second part of the book is more practical, and potentially very helpful, but by this point I couldn’t wait to finish it.
A Child’s Journey Through Placement by Vera Fahlberg – This is a text book for social workers who look after children and young people plain and simple. I haven’t read a book like it since I trained to be a teacher many years ago. However, its plain talking and clear advice have made excellent reading and I would recommend it, as a book to dip in and out of, to anyone who is thinking of adopting. This was recommended to me by Sandra from the agency.
Preparing for Adoption by Julia Davis – This is a straight talking book that outlines the process of adoption and gives clear, practical guidance on how to get started and how to keep going once the children arrive. This was also recommended to me by Sandra from the agency.
The Unofficial Guide to Adoption by Sally Donovan – I have just finished Sally’s second book. Again, this is a really open and honest account of what life has been like for an adoptive parent. I suspect I’ll come back to this book one once we have our children as it is packed full of really useful and practical tips.
If I had to choose a few of the books I'd go for No Matter What and Preparing for Adoption.
Forums - These are a great way to speak directly to other adoptive parents who are either at the same stage as you or have already been there. Sandra at the agency directed us to New Family Social which is specifically set up to support LGBT people who want to adopt. The online forum is brilliant – I have posted a number of questions that have always been replied to quickly and with great thought. They also run events where you can meet up with other families (although at the time of writing we have yet to attend one of these). We have also just joined Adoption UK, recommended to us by the agency, which is basically the same as NFS but available for everyone to join. Again there is access to forums and support, which have been really helpful. For both these forums, like all online communities, you get out of them what you put in so try to keep your profile up to date and check in with what they’re up to.
No doubt you'll find your own research and information to help you make your initial decisions and then to support you when you adopt but this has all been invaluable for Tom and me to make sure we have made the right decision.
My husband and I have adopted two wonderful children. Duckling is 5 and Gosling, her little brother, is 3. I'll be keeping track of our journey here...