Sally Donovan reflects upon her journey as an adoptive parent and discusses adoption’s place in the future

adoption futureSally Donovan, bestselling author of No Matter What and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, recounts how her journey as an adoptive parent has changed and shaped her as an individual, and discusses adoption’s place in the future. Her article is taken from 30 Years of Social Change which gathers together over 30 leading thinkers from diverse disciplines to reflect upon how their fields of expertise have evolved during those years.

Thirty years ago, as Jessica Kingsley Publishers was being formed, I was 18 and about to embark on my first experience of parenting. After finishing sixth form college I took the Eurolines coach to Paris and started work as an au-pair for an Anglo-French couple. He was a floppy-haired British banker who had something of a blonde Hugh Grant about him and she was a beautiful Parisian who spoke English like Princess Diana. I lived with them in their rented house just off Place Charles de Gaulle and cared for their 1 year-old son Pascal. It was kind of normal back then to go to a foreign country, move in with people you knew virtually nothing about and, with no experience, look after their precious child. Continue reading

‘There has been a sea change in attitude towards lesbian and gay adopters’ – Ann Morris

lesbian and gay adoptionIn this extract from Adopting: Real Life Stories, Ann Morris explains society’s dramatic change in attitude towards lesbian and gay adopters in the past decade but admits that there is progress still to be made. Recognising the ‘oppenness to difference’ that gay and lesbian adopters generally have, she puts forward that such a mindset better equips them for bringing up a child with positive values in the modern day.

Click here to read the extract

With more than 70 real life stories, revealing moments of vulnerability and moments of joy, Adopting: Real Life Stories provides an authentic insight into adoption. These stories take the reader on a journey through every stage of the adoption process, from making the initial decision to adopt to hearing from adoptees, and offer an informative and emotive account of the reality of families’ experiences along the way. It includes chapters on adopting children of all ages as well as sibling groups; adopting as a single parent; adopting as a same sex couple; adopting emotionally and physically abused children; the nightmare of adoption breaking down; contact with birth parents; tracing and social media and more.

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Adoptive families come in all shapes and sizes; here they tell their stories

adoptionAnn Morris reflects upon her new book Adopting: Real Life Stories and describes the honest and often moving stories of people touched by adoption whose contributions form the book.

Nothing pulls at the united heart of Britain like a lost or abandoned child. Recent government legislation to offer a haven and a home to Syrian and other orphans wandering aimlessly through the Calais camps is passed with speed. The outrage over the Syrian crisis reached its passionate peak when a picture of the limp, lifeless body of a little Syrian boy on a beach was splashed across every world news outlet in September.

So why I always wonder do we give so little time to our own lost, abandoned, neglected and abused children: 93,000 of them in care in the UK at any one time?

Some will  ricochet  between care and their birth families for most of their childhood, some will remain in foster care or children’s homes until they are adults and only  a few, approximately 6,000 a year, will be adopted according to statistics. Continue reading

I tend to lie low during National Adoption Week – Sally Donovan

National Adoption WeekSally Donovan, author of No Matter What, Billy Bramble and the Great Big Cook Off and The Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting, reflects upon her decision to adopt all those years ago, and what National Adoption Week means to her.

Last weekend I went to a reunion at the historic garden I used to work in. I left fourteen years ago. Amongst the staff who had worked there some had lost partners, some had married and had children, several were suffering ill health and one had moved into a nursing home. We all had stories to tell over lunch. Mine was that I had adopted two children, now in their teenage years.

I went through all the highs and lows of the adoption process while I was working there. After the reunion lunch and the group photo on the steps I walked around the garden. Every familiar wall, doorway, tree and view took me back. It was a pivotal time for me. I was happy there in that pseudo-Edwardian world, amongst a warm and slightly dysfunctional family of gardeners, historians, teashop staff and office workers and yet I wanted so much to be a parent. I’d planned at some point to do both; to return to historic gardening as a working parent. It wasn’t to be. Adoptive parenting, or at least the kind that was demanded of me, was not going to share me with anything else. Continue reading

Adoptive parenting can be tough, but also wholly rewarding – Sophie Ashton

AdoptionSophie Ashton, author of The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, describes the emotional struggle she went through soon after her daughter moved in.  Admitting that she did not anticipate the emotional toll it would take on her and her husband, she nonetheless says that adoption can be a wholly rewarding experience that brings joy, hope and fulfillment.

Everyone’s adoption story is unique and special to them. Yet many include the similar frustrations associated with the adoption approval and matching process and/or the emotional anguish associated with the loneliness and heartache of infertility.

Our story is but one of many, and one with which many people will identify.  Getting through the adoption approval process took my husband and I two years, followed by 13 months to find our daughter and a further 10 months of waiting for the matching panel to approve us as her parents.  As you can imagine there were many frustrations along the way.  On the plus side, by the time Lucy moved in we’d had many years to read adoption related books, attend courses and prepare for her arrival.  We were super excited and felt more than ready to welcome Lucy as our new daughter into our home. Continue reading

Read an extract from Sophie Ashton’s The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting

Ashton_Secrets-of-Succ_978-1-78592-078-3_colourjpg-printIn this extract from The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, Sophie Ashton discusses how it is perfectly normal to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after your child moves in, how the process of successfully integrating them into your family does not simply happen overnight, but that in the long term adopting can be a wholly rewarding experience that brings joy, hope and fulfillment. An honest and reassuring account of what it can really be like to be an adoptive parent, The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting is a practical hands-on guide that will help you prepare for the highs and lows of being an adoptive parent. It discusses preparing for the journey ahead, parenting with empathy, facilitating your child’s attachment, helping your child feel listened to, and providing structure and consistency in order to successfully integrate your child into your family life.

>>Click here to download the extract<<

The emotional and behavioural challenges of adoptive parenting – Sophie Ashton

Ashton_Secrets-of-Succ_978-1-78592-078-3_colourjpg-printIn this article Sophie Ashton, author of The Secrets of Successful Adoptive Parenting, talks reassuringly about the emotional challenges of adopting a child.

It is quite common for adopters to feel emotionally overwhelmed soon after their child moves in

In the early weeks post-placement many adopters feel a mix of emotions in response to their child.  For some adoptive parents the challenging and negative emotions seem more prevalent than the positive ones, and can on occasion lead to them starting to question their reasons for wanting to adopt.  Sometimes these challenging emotions can put the adoption placement at risk of breaking down.  I know this – because it almost happened to us.

After four years in the adoption process we were very ready for the arrival of our daughter. Although emotionally exhausting, the eight-day introduction period went well.  We warmed to her – she warmed to us; she and our birth son seemed to get on well.  We were all beyond excited when she moved in – we adored her.  Happy days!  Our dream of a perfect family was coming true!

Our honeymoon period didn’t last long

Unbeknown to us, however, just the other side of a brief two-day honeymoon period were some pretty challenging and debilitating emotions lying in wait for us to experience in full.  These emotions turned our excitement into panic, our hope into despair and our happiness into gloom.  We felt heavy and weighed down by the mixed emotions we felt in response to the placement of this little girl in to our family.

Continue reading