Adoption breakdown

A Guest Post

My adoption has been breaking down for years- in fact, I’m not entirely sure that it was ever cohesive enough in the first place for words like ‘disruption’ and ‘breakdown’ to feel applicable.

My mum hasn’t phoned me for over a year. To be fair, I have seen her, because I have invited, persuaded and gone out of my way to include her in my and indeed her grandchildren’s lives.

But this one fact- that she can’t bring herself to pick up the phone, feels to me like the last in a long line of straws.

Adoption disruption and breakdown is often written about from the perspective of adoptive parents at their wits end after trying everything in their power to keep their children (much wanted, no doubt) in the family fold.  Often in the face of hugely disruptive, destructive and violent behaviour. No one comes to the point of breakdown quickly or lightly.

I was a pretty ok child, relatively speaking and would consider myself and alright adult. I’m muddling through parenting children and enjoying a career I have worked really hard to get.

If I was my parent I would be pretty proud really.

I am my own parent, because the ones that adopted me lost interest early on.

For as far back as I can remember I have tried to forge a relationship with them- particularly my mum- I was always terrified of being left again- that if I didn’t do what made them happy, they would take me back and get another child, a better child .

My parents didn’t want to parent, they wanted children, because that’s what people do. Sadly for them, they couldn’t in the conventional sense have what they wanted, so they adopted my brother and me (one of each, the nuclear dream) attempts to shape us into miniature versions of themselves were often thwarted but eventually my brother has taken over the family business (not what he wanted to do with his life) and I stayed in the mould of education long past when I would have liked to.

My mum has never enjoyed having children, to her, we were just some smaller people who demanded things that she couldn’t give, like time and love. An inconvenience that took her away from her real passions- gardening, baking, arranging the church flowers and watching sport on TV- solitary pursuits for a solitary person- not keen on sharing and quick with her fists when irritated.

My mum recalls my first year with her like this:

“You cried and cried and would only stop squawking when I fed you scrambled eggs” or

“You were a little sod, always up in the night, always wetting yourself”

Bearing in mind, I was a baby, I wonder what she had been expecting or indeed supported to prepare for.

Not for our family, the sharing of amusing anecdotes or “wasn’t it adorable when you….” Always space for a negative though.

Always another bruise on our self esteem.

There were many times in my childhood when I could have phoned social services- reported them, changed the situation, but I didn’t know that it was an option. We put up and shut up.

And on and on into adulthood, the emotional blows keep coming, recently over a pub lunch, my mum casually dropped in mine and my brothers birth names, apropos of nothing, like dropping a grenade onto the table she neither knew nor cared that this might be a ‘thing’ for either of us (my brother has never traced his birth family)

Of course she had told both of us growing up that she knew nothing of our former lives.

I’d like to think that its not out of cruelty that she operates but a kind of lack of self awareness and empathy. She is not the kind of person to get that other people have feelings nor does she think she has to be careful in any of her interactions. She has done an incredible job of pushing me away and this time, I don’t think I’m going to keep hurting myself by going back.