Hi, I’m Lily and those guys back there hiding from the camera, those are my friends. They’re not really that shy, they just picked me to come and chat to you. Lucky me!
You see, me and them, we all have one thing in common, we’ve all been adopted, some of us when we were little babies, some of us recently.
So you could say we know a thing or two about what makes adoptive kids tick, and that’s what this is all about.
We all love our new families, it’s a pretty amazing feeling to be part of something so special, but being adopted isn’t always straightforward, and neither is adopting.
So we decided to share some things we’ve learnt so that adoptive kids and their parents can understand each other better and make life a little easier for everyone.
First off, if we’re going to get to know each other, we’re going to have to talk. Simple, right? Maybe not.
All kids have things they worry about or are scared of and we’re no different.
Most adopted kids will have been through some difficult times in their lives, even just changing families is traumatic, let alone the stuff we might have seen before that happened.
It’s not the kind of thing you can just bring up over breakfast, it might take years before we are ready to trust anyone with that stuff.
We’ve got our whole lives together so there’s no need to rush things
Until then, it means a lot to know that someone is there and ready to listen, to anything. It doesn’t have to be the big stuff
No two people are the same, we all feel differently about how much or how little we want to share, and when.
But one thing’s for sure, there’s no right time to find out you’re adopted so it’s much better to find out as soon as possible than to suddenly be told one day out the blue.
And when we do want to start talking a bit more about things in our past, or the family we left behind, it doesn’t hurt to have a little helping hand.
A Life Story Book or a memory box is a good way to put those jumbled memories in order, to help make sense of them, and to collect the moments we want to keep as we continue our adoption journey together.
Next up is school. School is tough for everyone. Homework, teachers, exams, other kids. It’s a lot for anyone to take in.
Because of the things we’ve been through, we often find it difficult to trust even the people closest to us, so making new friends may take time.
Now, imagine feeling like that, and being chucked into a room full of other kids you barely know and being expected to somehow concentrate on schoolwork as well.
No wonder some of us adopted kids might get labelled as disruptive or difficult.
We might even feel like we get bullied because we’re seen as different in the way we act, or just because we’re adopted.
We think adoptive parents should talk to their kids before they start school and help them understand what they might be feeling while they’re there and why.
And lastly, make sure our teachers don’t tell other people or use adoption as a label.
Not everyone understands adoption and it can really make things hard if people get the wrong impression.
Let us tell our close friends about it when we’re ready, not when someone blurts it out in science!
No-one’s perfect but for people who have been through some of the things we have, there are gonna be moments when we’re definitely less than perfect.
They’ll be days when the “everything’s just fine” mask won’t fit and we act out. That might mean shouting, arguing, running away, or just really needing to be alone, and that’s even before we become teenagers!
Days when things remind us of the past can be especially hard, even happy days like birthdays or the anniversary of being adopted can bring up feelings and memories we’ve held inside for a long time.
If we’re having a bad day, the best thing you can do is just try and be calm and understanding, try not to get too frustrated with us.
Take it as a compliment that we feel close enough to you to let our feelings show, even if it’s not in the nicest way.
It sounds like a lot, I know but at the end of the day, we just want to be part of a loving family.
Just knowing that there’s someone close that we can trust, and can rely on for love and support, no matter what will really make a difference.
We can start to heal the feelings from our past and look forward to the future, together.
So there you go, easy! (Laughter). Ok, maybe not, but with a bit of understanding and support from each other, we can be the happy, amazing family we all want to be.”
With a special thank you to the young people from The Adoptables, Talk Adoption, Caritas Care, Coram.
To find your nearest adoption agency go to www.first4adoption.org.uk/find-an-adoption-agency. First4Adoption.