People who approach adoption for the first time are far too concerned with its process. That was a mistake I made too, but then again, I rarely miss the chance.

When I first considered adoption I cared for what I learned to be accurate, so I started by visiting only government sites. Soon I knew all about the various stages of adoption in very minute details, how many panels I would have to attend, matching, PAR, adoption orders…

I lost countless hours of sleep reading about what is pretty much the bureaucracy of adoption. If only I knew back then how much I miss sleeping now, my research would have lasted minutes.

Learning all that felt good, felt like I was making progress. It was all very “dry” tho, completely devoid of any emotion, or real life experience. All I wanted, really, was to have the actual, objective, indisputable facts, delivered with love, and a human touch. Was that too much to ask?

Knowing about the adoption process has never helped me, I bet it never helped anyone. I don’t even think there is all that much one should know about the process itself, other than:

  1. It’s fairly inclusive
    Being married, etherosexual, rich, in work, young, home-owner, or perfectly healthy is not a requirement. Not being a criminal helps.
  2. It doesn’t cost a thing
    That is true here in Britain. Sadly, it’s not the same in US (or Italy for that matter).
  3. It’s really invasive
    Considering that Social Service has to determine whether you can be given custody of an actual child, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll need more that your National Insurance Number to process your application.
  4. You’ll need to train for it
    Every aspiring parent will need to take some time off work (or their busy life) to attend the training sessions and various meetings. Although it might not seem that way at first, both are very important.
  5. It takes between 1 and 2 years from start to placement
    Don’t quote me on this. This is my own observation, based on people I spoke to (a very small pool of people indeed). And again, this only applies to the UK (in Italy you may never see the end of it).

There you have it, my 5 bite-size lessons on the adoption process, free of charge.

I was asking the wrong questions. What is more important, which documents need to be produced for stage one, or what it is like to be an adoptive parent? How long home study lasts, or what difference adoption makes to parenting? How about how long before your adopted child will be able to call you Mummy or Daddy?

The answers to all these questions are all over the Internet, but it’s not part of our beautifully curated government site.

You may want to know what to read instead. I’d start from these these pages:

Coffee Colored Sofa: Adoption is awkward

There is so much to learn from this article. In fact, there is a lot to take away from this paragraph alone:

Adoption is born out of loss. Our children are beautiful. We are becoming a beautiful family and we love each other.

You know how grown-ups have a really hard time dealing with loss. Adopted children have to deal will loss all the time, and are even less capable of coping with it. Unfortunately, loss and adoption are inescapably intertwined; the effects may be more obvious immediately after children are removed from their family, but the feeling never really fades away. Birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s Day can be a very difficult time for any adopted family, and it may never change. Loss comes with adoption as a package deal, you need to be aware of that.

The Puffin Diaries: The first one hundred kisses

The first one hundred kisses is about intimacy with your new adopted child. The kind of closeness you may expect as a parent doesn’t come as easily with adoption.

You might immediately fall in love with your children, but they’ll need time before being able to love you back. After all, they never asked to become your children, in fact they never asked for anything that ever happened to them in their life.

It will take work on your side, tons of understanding, backtracking, and patience, but if you don’t mess it up too badly, one day they’ll be happy to call themselves your children.

Trauma Mama Drama: Here’s the Difference…

As parents, we feel judged all the time. It doesn’t help that we tend to judge each other at every chance, most often unfairly. It doesn’t need to be like that, it just is. I want to believe that the reason for it is that being a parent is important to all of us, but we all have different ideas how it should be done, and when we see someone doing it “wrong”, we all feel compelled to point it out, only never to the parent directly involved.

Many children of adoption experienced one or more form of trauma, another big feature of adoption. It comes in many horrific shapes, just don’t make the mistake to think that some form of trauma is worst than others (as I did). They are all equally damaging for a child.

You might learn that parenting the way your parents did with you may not work too well for your adopted child. It may in fact do more harm than good. Luckily there is an alternative. It’s hard, it’s exhausting, but more importantly it will seem counter-productive to most people. And when it comes to parenting, counter-productive is just another way to say “wrong”, so be prepare to be judged.. a lot.

Your child will not alway be the most popular with other parents, and they will blame you for that, and your parenting skills. Don’t waste any time with them, let them bitch about you behind your back. You will have enough to worry about trying to educate your own parents and relatives, who are often the most relentless of your critics.

I wouldn’t judge you if you ran back to read more about the adoption process now. But learning about bureaucracy has never helped anyone decide whether anything was a good fit for them.

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