Adopted in the UK

The life of a UK adoptee

Posts Tagged ‘Media Portrayal

{7 of 30} Neglecting Narey

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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

Martin Narey is wrong. #justsaying

with 3 comments

Martin Narey is entirely wrong in his belief that…

… and that …

So very very wrong.

Socialisation is what makes being adopted so hard. The socialisation adoptees get IS different, whether it’s politically correct to admit it or not.

Read Verrier and Lifton and Kirschner and Brodzinsky and learn that it’s actually far far harder than you currently believe. No matter how much you want it to be, it’s not “better”, it’s just different.

I have other post in progress, but just wanted to point ^that bit out.

Written by 7rin

Sat, 10 November, 2012 at 8:44 pm

Narey on Adoption

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Martin Narey answers some parents… but not the adoptees.


Embedded above, rewritten below by me (so any typos’re likely to be mine, and I apologise in advanced if I got any wrong – all corrections’ll be followable by any thread :p); originally pimped out on Twitter by Mr. Narey himself.


This is an open letter to some people who use Twitter to challenge my views about adoption. Some of those people have written or e mailed me and have received replies (albeit often necessarily brief replies). Others have preferred to stay anonymous and that’s fine. Some who tweet and blog have been abusive. I don’t much like that but I understand it because I believe it reflects an anger and sometimes a helplessness about their individual cases. I would, I am sure, feel the same way were our positions reversed.

I have never denied the reality that sometimes children are taken into care unnecessarily. It would be silly to believe otherwise when we have a workforce that is fallible. But I believe, and all I have read and seen supports this, that we have a far greater number of cases where we leave children at home when they should be removed. My interest is in children who are neglected (I know that children are taken into care for other reasons). I believe that, as a society, we tolerate neglect for too long. We do not, as many people believe, have record numbers of children in care. At the end of the eighties the care population was half as big again as it is now. And that was at a time when there were at least three times as many adoptions.

So I believe the case for care, for intervening earlier to stop neglect and then sourcing a new permanence for a neglected child is overwhelming and of course I shall continue to argue for that.

Incidentally, I do not – as many tweeters suggest – profit in any way from adoptions. And Barnardo’s, which I ran for six years never, in all that time, made any profit or surplus from the very small number of adoptions they dealt with. Nor do I have any power to intervene in cases. So I cannon, even if I wished, help to achieve the return of anyone’s child.

My role is simply to offer a view to Ministers about adoptions. That view is based on my experience at Barnardo’s and, since my resignation, many, many days spent visiting local authorities, voluntary adoption agencies and speaking to adopters and the adopted as well as children in care and charities which support families struggling to keep their children. Some people call me the Adoption Czar, evoking an image of a large salary and a retinue of staff. Those things, like the Adoption Czar title, are inventions of the press. I have no staff and last year my total earnings from the Department for Education were about £40,000.

So what advice can I offer those who feel their children have been wrongly removed? It is this. Fight your case of course. But do not seek to do so by attacking adoption in general. Whatever the circumstances of your case it is demonstrably true that thousands and thousands of adoptions are successful. The number which breakdown are much lower than commonly believed (new research from the University of Bristol is likely to confirm this) and there are thousands of adult adoptees willing to speak positively about their experience. I am very close personally to four such adoptees and have met hundreds of others.

Nevertheless, I believe (and say frequently) that adoption is only appropriate for a small minority of the children taken into care in England, largely those neglected by parents who are unlikely ever to be able to be successful parents. It is indisputably right that for those children adoption brings stability and compensates for that neglect.

So, continue to pursue that which you believe in. But don’t undermine the specifics of your argument by ignoring the reality of neglect and the need for us as a society, when parents cannot be supported to offer decent homes (often because of drink and addictions) and if good quality kinship carers cannot be found, to find an alternative stability through adoption. Those who might advise that the way to seek resolution of your own cases is by seeking to undermine adoption are – at best – misguided. Instead I offer this advice sincerely, concentrate on demonstrating that the authorities have made grave mistakes in _your_ case

Kind regards

Martin Narey


Written by 7rin

Tue, 9 October, 2012 at 1:36 am

Contrary to popular belief…

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It’s often suggested to me that I must have had a “bad” experience with adoption. People tell me often that “not every adoption’s like yours“, and they’re right – not every adoption IS like mine.

Unlike me, not every adoptee gets adopted into a healthy family, that has strong enough family dynamics that it can teach even someone who recognises nothing how much that family unit means to each other.

Unlike me, some adoptees are taken in by highly abusive families, in which alcoholism and other “acceptable” addictions run rampant, and narcissism is the genetic trait that shines through.

Unlike me, some adoptees are adopted into families that divorce, further compounding any issues already faced while living “as if born unto” both their adopters.

Unlike me, some adoptees are physically, emotionally and sexually abused by their adopting family.

Unlike me, some adoptees find out that their entire life has been a lie – discovering in their 50s that the reason they always felt so damn weird was because they were adopted. This is also risking that adoptees’ life by the perpetuation of invalid health ‘facts’.

I’m one of the lucky ones. I actually did get the good afam. in which there was solidity and safety and love and care and acceptance. It’s because I did get the good afam. that I am petitioning Parliament to help adoptees by revoking the irrevocability of adoption. If I was doing it for myself, it would be far ‘easier’ to use my own adoption in an attempt to establish Case Law, but I’m not doing it for me. I’m not doing it because “I had a bad experience”, I’m doing it because other people HAVE had that “bad experience”. I’m doing it because I know damn well how lucky I’ve been in my adoption. I’m doing it because I know not everyone else gets that.

And no, Mr. Narey, being adopted doesn’t “compensate”, not even when it’s a bloody awesome adoption like mine is. It just gives us fuck-ups that no-one wants to accept exists.

Thus, before I close, I reiterate the question I asked on Twitter; what’s the definition of a “successful adoption”?

Finally, I ask Mr. Narey to please continue to discuss that actualities of adoption itself, since that’s the part that impacts the adoptees, and it *should* be something that is within the remit of whatever you actually are. Note, I’m saying change it, ’cause I honestly don’t expect to be able to stop it. To change it though, it’s GOT TO BE recognised that it is adoption itself that does much damage. This is the part that you’re seeming to miss!

Written by 7rin

Tue, 9 October, 2012 at 1:34 am

Big Shiny Adoption

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Before I respond, I’d just like to clarify that as well as being an adoptee, I’m also a massive Joss fan, and a Lokean too. As such, there’s only one part of this article that I’d like to criticise…

All joking aside, adoption is an awesome thing. It brings children to families who perhaps cannot have children of their own … and it brings families to those children who … don’t have one

So sayeth Arse-bot, over at Big Shiny Robot.

Unfortunately – especially in America – adoption is no longer about providing children with families. Unfortunately – especially in America – adoption is far more about providing adults with children.
Unfortunately – especially in America – adoption is nothing more than BIG BUSINESS.

The Finances

“The National Council for Adoption: Mothers, Money, Marketing, and Madness” parts One & Two goes into minute detail about how much PROFIT is made by so-called adoption “charities” from their trade in human life.

Additionally, Babies for Sale provides a PRICE LIST showing how a child that is not a ‘healthy white freshly-squeezed womb-wet’ can cost far far less – what with the disabled or the traumatised or the non-whites not even being as high as second-choice on the wannabe-parenting dream scale.

Finally on the theme of cost, this thread is a bunch of adoptees discussing how much each of them cost – along with the impact that such knowledge has had upon their lives.

Everyday Discrimination

Sadly, the truth of the matter is that adoptees in much of America are much maligned by their own Government – to the point that they are legally and lawfully discriminated against.

Got a (fake) birth certificate filed over a year after birth? Tough luck if you want anything like a passport or a driving licence then, because many adoptees are now finding that they are now ineligible to be provided with such things due to rules introduced in the wake of the 2001 terror attacks. Same goes for applying for jobs that require some forms of identification. I know adoptees who have experienced all these forms of discrimination directly.

Even if you’re not one of the adoptees suffering from discrimination that way, should you actually wish to get at YOUR OWN factual (as opposed to “amended”) birth certificate – sorry, but unless you’re in one of the few states that allow adoptees access to such things (six of them I think, though it may now be eight), then you’re pretty much out of luck. Even if you can (possibly) get at it, chances are that – unlike the other 98% of the population, you may actually have to go to court and beg and plead with the judge/s you’re petitioning in order to get what most of the rest of the population can walk into an office and get handed over the counter with almost no fuss at all.

Adoption Records by State is a useful list of lengths adoptees have to go to to get at something given willy-nilly to the rest of the population (since don’t forget, these laws also affect those who have been adopted by step-parents too – not just those of us who weren’t even good enough for our own families to want to bother with).

Of course, this also affects international adoptees in ways that are even more devastating, with some being deported back to their original countries

The Emotional Costs

Being adopted, contrary to popular belief, is not “wonderful”.

Adoptees face a multitude of psychological issues that the non-adopted rarely experience. However, being such a vast subject, I’ll resort to saying please visit the link included for further details.

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

Finally, for a far more coherent rebuttal of the quoted text than anything I’ve managed to throw together yet, please go read Amanda’s post, “The Opposite of Adoption“. In fact, if you’re AT ALL interested in adoption and its effect on the adopted, then please go and read lots of posts in Amanda’s exceedingly articulate blog.


ETA: Tue 15 May 2012 @ 02:42

I’ve mentioned in one of these The Avengers posts, the wealth of other articles and blogs on the subject. Unfortunately, I’ve been having a hard time tracking down all the ones I thought I had read. Thus this ETA section of this post will be dedicated to linking to articles and blogposts on the subject, sometimes (though not always) from adoptees themselves. Feel free to nominate any posts that you feel worthy of inclusion, should I have missed it. I may not add them all, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be suggested.

May 06
Disney, Adoption and The Avengers… by Doug7856
… with alex9179’s reply being my favourite explanation of the scene yet.

May 10
Some in the Adoption Community Angered by ‘Marvel’s The Avengers’ by Arse-bot

May 11
Was ‘Avengers’ joke cruel to adoption community? by Entertainment (has link to Entertainment website post on the issue)

‘Avengers’ Joke Does Impact Kids Waiting For Adoption by Beth Robinson

May 14

Why I Found “The Avengers” Line Offensive by Amanda

My thoughts on the “he’s adopted” line from the Avengers/I’m an angry adoptee by kostvollmers

NCFA is not the “Expert” on Adoption Issues by Susan P

May 16
That ‘He’s Adopted’ One-Liner in ‘The Avengers’? Not Funny. by Jessica Cromwell

May 17
An Angry Adoptee Fangirl Responds To Avengers Adoption Joke by Triona Guidry

The Avengers attack on adopted children is mean and unfunny by Andrea Poe

In an article proving how spot-on the original complaints are, Natalie Zutter goes to great lengths in demonstrating her own lack of lack of comprehension.

May 18
Avengers: He’s Adopted Joke Creating Controversy by Scott Johnson

May 20
Another “The Avengers” Interpretation: Your not a “Real” Member of your Family by Amanda

May 21
Stigmas About Adoption Remain, and Hurt Families by Abbie Goldberg

May 29
I Belly-Laughed all the Way Through the Avengers by Earth Stains

ETA: Wed 05 September 2012 @ 00:04

He’s adopted – Thor (Avengers) Facebook page


Not about the controversy, but where I got the link to Tom Hiddleston’s article: A little homework for you…

Also not directly related, but something I found while ‘liking’ EB’s Team Loki (Tom Hiddleston) fan page: How to tell Loki that he’s adopted.

Written by 7rin

Sat, 12 May, 2012 at 9:03 pm

All joking aside …

with 3 comments

All joking aside, adoption is an awesome thing.

So sayeth Arse-bot, over at Big Shiny Robot.

The comment has, of course, really really annoyed me – but not just because it’s yet again someone who has no experience of what it’s like to be adopted telling everyone the complete opposite of what it’s actually like to be adopted.


Much more important is the fact that the final paragraph – the one that begins with the that heinous, quoted phrase – is the only thing marring an otherwise accurate account of some of the recent bitching from some within the adoption community about Joss‘s new film, ‘The Avengers‘.

Now I know what you’re all wondering – how could anyone in their right minds bitch about anything Joss has ever given to us?

Were it only adoptees complaining, I would point out that actually, many of us aren’t in our right minds – not least thanks to the pressures applied through socialisation upon the adoptee to ‘become’ this other person that is not the product of their own biological parentage. Of course, by making such a statement, I too would likely be slammed by some of the adoption community for daring to feed into the stigma already faced by adoptees – so it’s probably a good job that not many people read this blog. ;)

It’s not just from the adoptees though. One of the links included within this post – Rage Against the Minivan – is an adopters blog. It is also the first blog I encountered issuing complaints against The Avengers.

So why are there so many complaints?

I think probably the most important part of the answer is that – due to wads and wads of abuse directed at adoptees – many involved with adoption have become over-sensitised to what may or may not be an actual insult.

Unfortunately, adoptism, like tallism and fatism and gingerism is one of the last bastions of insult. In a world where being racist and sexist and disablist is frowned upon, there is a shortage of candidates for the butt of jokes, and since so many people believe the hype about adoption being all rainbow-farting unicorns, being adopted is one of the fastest growing jokes. Of course, should people – especially those who are adopted – dare to speak out about such negative stereotyping, they are almost inevitably chastised, and reminded that adoptees should be “grateful” that they weren’t aborted/thrown out with the waste/left languishing in an orphanage/etc.

Great, eh.

Problem is, these jokes that adoptees grow up hearing, are a part of the socialisation that we experience. From these jokes, we begin to learn from an early age that we are second best, the booby prize, and almost certainly doomed to become either a serial killer, or some other form of insane-off-the-rails mess. It matters not whether we love being adopted, or hate being adopted, or even don’t really care about being adopted – all the time we are the “final resort”, the “last chance”, or perhaps even the “cure for infertility”.

In other stuff: It’s taken me almost a whole day to write this one post, which clearly indicates that my head is still not working as well as I would like. It also means that this post, like many others I attempt to write, has become almost as lost as I have been in recent years – thus I’m quitting now (just this post, not bloggin’ as a whole), while I’m still at least vaguely ahead and have produced something vaguely coherent.

I started writing it, not just in answer to Arse-bot’s article, but because I wanted to say something on here about the petition anyway. It just so happens that many of the points I was going to make were far more credibly covered by Arse-bot, and so instead, I ended up heading somewhere else.

Of course, being Lokean and a lover of Joss also gives me an alternative perspective on this than many of those who’ve complained about The Avengers, but it looks like that’s a post or another day. For now, I’m off back over to Arse-bot’s article to attempt to construct a coherent response to that bloody annoying quote that I started this post off with.

Written by 7rin

Sat, 12 May, 2012 at 6:54 pm

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