Adopted in the UK

The life of a UK adoptee

{7 of 30} Neglecting Narey

with 8 comments

In both his “open letter ” on Twitter, and in the Community Care Live report (both fed from SlideShare), Martin Narey extolls the virtues of adoption. Whilst repeatedly cautioning that adoption is only right for a small minority of children, there is a persistent reiteration of a specific concern regarding the swift removal and adoption of children experiencing (or likely to experience) neglect. Nor is such concern unfounded, as Nancy Verrier confirms in her book, The Primal Wound (1993; p.102):

Abandonment and neglect are reported to be the two most devastating experiences that children endure – even more devastating then sexual or physical abuse. That’s why some neglected children do naughty things to get attention. Even though the attention is hurtful – being yelled at, hit, or otherwise harmed – it is better than neglect.

However, while seemingly validating Narey’s concerns for the neglected, Verrier’s inclusion of “abandonment” as the other most devastating experience does throw a proverbial spanner in the works when considering adoption as a ‘rescue package’. This is more especially emphasised in consideration of the closed-adoption scenario that Narey seems to favour strongly (as evidenced by his ostensible fervour for separating siblings in order to facilitate faster adoptions). I argue that in his quest to salve disrupted childhoods through adoption, Narey is himself neglecting those he is seeking to empower through his apparent refusal to accept the implications that abandonment contributes to the formation of the psyche of those he desires to protect.

Verrier elucidates further:

Anything is better than abandonment. Abandonment is a child’s greatest fear. For adoptees, it is also reality, embedded in their implicit and unintegrated memory.

Narey is engaging in a cause based upon a false premise through his failure to acknowledge the combined devastation that both neglect and abandonment inflicts upon the child supposedly saved. This research is not new either, having long been catalogued as issues faced by adoptees of all eras.

I can personally attest to the flaws in Narey’s arguments because I am the example of whom he keeps speaking. I was about to be removed or neglect, but was “lucky enough” to be adopted, and so spent no time bouncing around the foster system. I got the dream adoption; going from poor, uncoping welfare teen mom who had no clue if Dad’d be of any help, to a modest life, raised by a stable couple with healthy outlooks, boundaries and bonds.

When my adopters met with my mom to have a look at me and decide whether they wanted to take me home with them, I was a mere 7 months old. My adoption decree was issued 6 months later, and so I was 13 months old at the time of finalisation – thus fitting neatly into Narey’s stated preference for removing children sooner rather than later from reportedly neglectful situations.

Unlike contemporary adopters, there were scant resources available to guide the adopters of the early 70s, and so my adopters, like many others, were thrust into parenting a hurt child with no clear education upon the implications of the incredible loss being experienced by that child. Like far fewer others, my adopters were clearly cut out for parenting, and strived to raise me with all the love and the care and the attention that all children deserve.

According to Martin Narey, love and permanence are what counts.

I had the love. I had the permanence. I had adopters that lavished security upon me, and an entire afam. that had no problems absorbing the stranger that was me. If love and permanence are what counts, then why have I spent the vast part of my life in desperate need of intervention therapy? From the precocious child letting people do what they want because “(e)ven though the attention is hurtful … it is better than neglect“, to the educated adult who has realised that being adopted has driven all aspects of my personality from long before I realised it was happening. If love and permanence are what counts, why have I spent almost a decade fighting to be able to get some adoptee-specific counselling because being adopted HAS affected me nad the whole of my life this badly?

It’s not just me either – being adopted has also affected so very very very many others this badly, too. So why, when even adopters are admitting that love is not enough, is our Government’s Adoption Advisor still pretending that the very real trauma of adoption loss only exists at inconsequential measures?

Adoption Loss is the only trauma in the world where the victims are expected by the whole of society to be grateful.
The Reverend Keith C. Griffith, MBE

The answer, as I’ve explained many times, is socialisation.

The socialisation surrounding adoption has its own quirks, foibles, and contradictions. Adoptees are expected to believe both that they’re special and chosen, and that if you love someone enough, you’ll give them away and leave them. All this while finding themselves repeatedly the butt of jokes, along with very real feelings of abandonment and other psychological abberances. The non-adopted are similarly given stories of the adopted, the out-cast, the weird one – and were such stories not based upon commonly-shared ‘truths’, then lines like “he’s adopted” in The Avengers would not have provoked the very real outburst of laughter that followed.

The accepted language surrounding adoption is, in very real terms, funded by the Adoption Industry. It’s the same reason BAAF, PACT, After Adoption and so many other UK agencies partaking in the child trafficking business silence the dissenting adoptees on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Unless the product shouts “hallelujah for adoption” then the stories are not wanted, after all, they don’t want us scaring off the paying customers (potential adopters). It is also echoed in the language used by agencies in their clamour to emphasise the wonders of adoption – for example, the National Council for Adoption offers the following:

Infant adoption also often offers many positive benefits to children. Children who are adopted are less likely than their non-adopted peers to have divorced parents and are more likely to be raised by parents with college degrees. They score higher than others in the general population on many indicators of wellbeing, including school performance, friendships, volunteerism, optimism, self-esteem, social competency, and feelings of support from others. They are also less likely to exhibit high-risk behaviors such as alcohol use, depression, vandalism, fighting, theft, weapon use, and driving/riding while drinking.

Indeed, with the NCfA suggesting such favourable outcomes, one wonders why it is not compulsory for ALL parents to relinquish their children in order for them to be adopted by “better” parents – yet the positivity behind these demonstrations directly contrasts the research offered by authors like Brodzinsky and Kirschner.

Adoptees are also given conflicting reports as to who their ‘real’ family consists of. Many avow that our real families are those that have adopted us, and with whom we have a tangible shared history, while others swear that those who are blood related are our real families. All this despite the remonstrations of many educated adult adoptees that ALL of our families are real.

Finally, Narey says “the sense of loss often minimal, particularly if neglectful birth parents not romanticised

I call shenanigans.

The report obtained from Staffordshire Adoption Services in 2009, ~4 months before I hit reunion, is a pretty accurate summary of the details I was told of my own adoption story growing up – in a similar language. The report is descriptive rather than emotional, and so was the language I grew up hearing about adoption. I wasn’t told about growing in hearts, but was instead taught biology and learned the practicalities; I was given the facts. I wasn’t told that I was especially chosen, but I was told that I was wanted, and loved, and cared about – which left me wondering who why was I unwanted and who had unloved me, and pondering whether I’d ever really been cared about.

Were my adoption problems – as has often been suggested – an exceptionally rare case, then my out-cryings against adoption would need not be so vociferous as they are. However, my issues stemming from and relating to adoption are not in the least exceptional – far from it. I am for once, demonstrably normal.

Written by 7rin

Wed, 14 November, 2012 at 6:28 pm

8 Responses

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  1. The key is what Martin Narey said, like it or not, ‘Not Always’. I have met many adoptee’s in my life who felt many things. I always felt a deep loss, a deep longing, a deep desire for truth. What the problem is, is when people use the experience of the few who fall into the ‘not always’ category, and use that to define us all.


    Thu, 15 November, 2012 at 3:18 am

    • I disagree. Just because so many adoptees don’t believe themselves that they haven’t been affected by their loss, they all have. The problem is that socialisation conditions us to minimise the impact that we accept having that loss.

      Put it this way, if a kid’s loses the entirety of its bfam (e.g. only child parents lost in a car crash, leaving no-one remaining to look after the kid/s), no-one expects them to be over-joyed and happy, but once those kids are adopted, socialisation exacts the inherent gratitude ALL adoptees are expected to have.

      OTOH, I agree entirely with your closing sentence. :}


      Tue, 8 January, 2013 at 4:01 am

  2. Reblogged this on Parents Rights Blog and commented:
    Add your thoughts here… (optional)


    Fri, 16 November, 2012 at 12:59 pm

  3. Well written, i’m glad i read it.

    carole jahme

    Fri, 23 November, 2012 at 12:17 am

  4. There is a most comprehensive site produced by adoptees in the US that illustrates how problems certainly outweigh the governmentally proposed solutions: Pound Pup Legacy:

    And, let’s face it: the problem with child ‘protection’ is that too many kids are taken to serve paedophile and / or financial agendas, BEFORE adoption is even taking place.

    Sabine Kurjo McNeill

    Thu, 10 January, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    • Damn, I love PPL, yet keep forgetting about it when I’m directing people places to read stuff.

      THANK YOU for the reminder of its existence.


      Thu, 10 January, 2013 at 5:57 pm

      • You’re most welcome, 7rin! I’d like to encourage people to lodge their stories there and to ensure that there are national organisations in ALL countries, like the one that helped the Slovak boys to return!

        I found PPL when I searched for that Centre!

        Sabine Kurjo McNeill

        Thu, 10 January, 2013 at 7:32 pm

  5. Reblogged this on Join The Dots Campaign and commented:
    A widely held, tho this information is widely suppressed…..Child protection is a fail…..internationally, if in doubt check out our playlists on Youtube, and soon some stories UK shared that may open many eyes, to the real day to day lives, of parents judged unfit, yet the very same system has been in place whilst the rape and abuse of children, has continued, largely unreigned, definitely covered up, and the voices of dissenters marginalised, suppressed, gagged, and many who have won past cases blacklisted and bullied, and punished severly if vulnerable to our ‘caring’ system………luckily all levels contain angels too, and fortunately some of us happen upon them and receive help….so people that can offer, healing, support, or links to good facilities……..especially UK, please email us, Lots of dots are linked through this blog…..Sheva


    Fri, 26 April, 2013 at 9:21 am

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