The first time Jonny & I were asked “what type of child we were hoping to be matched with” was from a social worker at an adoption evening event. Our answer was simple (and without much thought) we just wanted a child, any child.
The second time the question was raised was during early assessment, however this time we were expected to answer based on categories – age, gender, siblings, disabilities etc. By this time we had thought about it a little bit. We wanted a child that was fairly young, disabilities were open to discussion and the gender, race or religion didn’t matter us .
Jonny & I have learnt a lot throughout our adoption journey in regards statistics on children’s age groups, how trauma can effect these children, bonding & attachment with children that have suffered from trauma, alcohol foetal syndrome and much more. For example, we learnt that a child born having one birth parent diagnosed with schizophrenia, has a 10% chance of developing schizophrenia themselves. However, if the other birth parent or either of the biological grandparents were diagnosed with schizophrenia also, than this significantly increases the chance of the child suffering from schizophrenia. There are other factors that can increase these chances as there appears a lot that remains unknown about why people suffer from schizophrenia. According the Schizophrenia website.
This really got us thinking realistically about how we envisioned our own family would be. What were our weaknesses, our strengths and how could we utilise these to offer a child a loving and safe home.
- All the information we have read to date, led us still towards the opinion that we would like a younger child. This is how we came to the conclusion that we would like a child between 0 & 4 years of age.
- The gender of the child didn’t matter to us although consideration would have to be given as to if the child suffered from abuse from males only. If this was the case then it probably wasn’t a good idea to have the child join us given that there isn’t a female in our home.
- Race or religion still wasn’t an issue for either of us. However, we completely understand that the local authority would try and match children with families that are or similar race or belief.
- Disability would still need to be on a case by case basis.
The disabilities category was difficult to think about at the beginning. How could we exclude a child based on disability? However, if we were genetically able to give birth to our own child then we would hope for a healthy child as would any parent.
We have decided that when reviewing a profile of a child that suffers from a disability, we would look at the suitability of our home, how the disability would affect the child long term (essentially would we need to be full time carers when the child is an adult or would they be able to live independently) & think realistically about if we feel we could cope.
Jonny & I both have family members that suffer from disabilities, ranging from mild learning difficulties to more severe disabilities that results in them living full time in a care home. We have grown up supporting the people in our families that suffer from disabilities, encouraging their abilities and enjoying their lives as we would any other family member. My sister (Yvonne) is severely disabled and requires twenty-four hour care. When I was a child, I remember how difficult this was on my mum and older sister (Kirsty) who were Yvonne’s primary carers at the time. I remember how devastated I was when Yvonne (aged 14) moved into a care home so she could receive round the clock care. I couldn’t understand how this decision could have been made. How would Yvonne feel?
Looking back now, I know that there was no way my mum could have provided twenty four hour care and look after me and my siblings. Essentially, we had all suffered as a family unit. Mum had struggled to cope with every day parenting tasks and Kirsty became a care giver at a young age. Kirsty, Yvonne, my younger brother & I were growing up in an unhealthy environment.
How Yvonne felt moving into a care home, we will never fully know. What I do know is that Yvonne is receiving round the clock care now, that she requires. Yvonne has an active social life and is always smiling, laughing & singing (more than any other person I know) and appears extremely happy. I’m not confident Yvonne would be the same if she had stayed at home. Which in turn makes me want to be extremely careful when thinking about how & if Jonny & I would be able to care for a child with severe disabilities & if that would be the best case for the child.