Rhetoric and Reality

I have just spent four days away with some good friends who, sadly, I rarely get to see much of these days. Between them, in their collective close family histories, they have experienced just about every adoption-related scenario I can think of. I won't tell their private stories in all their complexity but between them they have lived:

  • being an adoptee
  • being a mixed-race adoptee
  • being an adopted child with an adopted non-bio sibling
  • being a bio-child with an adopted sibling
  • being a trans-cultural adoptee
  • having a sibling of a different racial background
  • adoption disruption
  • single-parent adoption
  • infant adoption
  • older child adoption
  • being in reunion
  • being adopters
  • being trans-cultural adopters
  • being 'international' adopters, though living in the birth country of their adopted child
  • raising adopted and birth children together
  • raising children of different racial backgrounds
  • raising a (bio) child in a culture completely different from that of their heritage

There's a lot more, but it's personal to them and not my story to share. Suffice it to say, they have at least a book's worth of real, lived experience of adoption in all its complicated glory. And boy, do I pick their brains, compare notes, and just generally enjoy being part of their crazy world from time to time!

And what's very noticeable to me, especially after weeks of rhetoric from both sides of the Atlantic associated with national adoption week/month and so on, is that my friends, like most people, do not fit anybody's mould. The temptation to assume that all adoptees feel a certain way, or that all adopters are seeking the same things, can sometimes be strong. I have lost count of the number of times I have read sweeping comments, sadly, uttered by all sides of the adoption triangle, about all other sides.

There is no, one single experience of being a birth parent, an adoptee or an adopter. There is no reason to expect that two people who have similar experiences will react in the same way to those experiences. There is no one, magic way to act, think or feel about adoption. It's complex. My friend's lives are complex. To reduce them to slogans, soundbites, protocols, catchy hashtags, statistics and tick sheets would be to do them a great disservice, and totally miss the point.

Let the whole world shout out their opinions about adoption. The rhetoric is a poor shadow of the reality.


  1. Brilliantly written post, thank you for sharing xx

  2. I have just included a link from my fostering blog to yours - I hope you might link to mine!


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