Monthly Archives: December 2014

Extra note before the end of the year 2014.

Before I write a New Year’s Monday Morning blog next week, I just want to say “Thank you” to Lenny Henry for his guest-editing of the Today Programme Radio 4, today Tuesday 30th December 2014.

lenny_henryHe highlighted the lack of diversity in the television industry and among writers on television.

Man + TV remoteImage courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A representation of diversity is something that is important to me. I am sure it would have always been so, even if we had not adopted two boys from a Caribbean background. I was very interested to hear that there is no such lack of diversity on the Trading Floors of the City!    More city traders Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The people interviewed by an all minority team, discussed black writers. (Maybe I missed it, but I did not hear anything about children’s literature. I thought Malorie Blackman OBE, Children’s Laureate would receive a mention. Some of her stories have been serialised on children’s TV. I believe that children’s literature is extremely important – NOT an inferior branch of literature. )

MalorieNot only books, but comics – such as Marvel Comics – were mentioned in the course of the programme. Apparently there has been progress in that field. However, as I wrote on Twitter, a mother and son team Patrice and John Aggs would certainly have been worth a mention. They have written exciting graphic novels. I have enjoyed reading “The Boss” with my grandson (published by David Fickling Books). This story features children of many ethnic origins. Since children’s literature is one of my passions, I could also list many other writers but I know that one programme cannot cover everything that one would wish.

Many excellent points were raised during the programme and I salute Lenny Henry! He has highlighted an interesting and important matter.

Back next week for the first Monday blog in the New Year.

 

Interesting backgrounds continued. . . Variety is the Spice of Life.

In my last blog post I was talking about the interesting backgrounds of our adoptive sons. They range from white British, to Jamaican, Nigerian/Ghanaian and Dominican. Now, with the birth of our grandchildren, our family has added further links, namely Trinidad and Tobago. . . .

Trinidad and Tobago flagImage courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

…as well as Northern Ireland and Scotland

cartoon Scotland chImage courtesy of Mister GC at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My own heritage is partly French.

France Image courtesy of taesmileland at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When I was at school – at the end of the 1940s, we moved from London to Surrey. At the school I attended in Streatham – London, children came from very varied and “interesting/exotic” backgrounds, but it was not like that in the school in Reigate, the Surrey town we moved to.

My school friend told me recently (60+ years after the event!) that my arrival at the local school in Surrey was keenly awaited. Because of my French name, they felt sure that I would look “exotic”. I didn’t know that at the time and I find it so amusing today. I do remember them all crowding round me to stare at me, but I have no idea what their conclusion was!

(I remember them all trying to shock me by saying swear words, but for some strange reason, they knew more swear words than I had ever heard of and I didn’t react because I didn’t even know they were “bad” words. That is my story and I’m sticking to it!)

  Odette as Child003       Odette by Eiffel Tower

 

(Not sure how old I was in the first picture, but I was 9 when I first went to France and was photographed by the Eiffel Tower.)

As everybody knows, in many cities today, people come from a great variety of backgrounds.

 children round the worldWe live in a vast inter-connected world. Let us celebrate!

Image courtesy of digitalart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Interesting backgrounds and heritage

A year ago I had lunch with a friendly person I had met at a local church. Inevitably a question came up about our respective families. As an adoptive parent myself, I was interested to hear that her son and daughter-in-law have adopted a boy from Ethiopia. I believe they adopted him when he was around one year old. He now lives with his adoptive parents somewhere in London. I was interested to hear that this young couple have friends who have also adopted an Ethiopian child, from the same orphanage.

Ethiopian flagImage courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The story then interested me further, because I learned that both sets of parents are learning the Ethiopian language. (Please forgive me if there are many Ethiopian languages. I didn’t ask that. Anyway these people are learning the language of the area their children came from. And they are studying this language somewhere in London.) This fact leads me to suppose that both sets of parents are interested in the origins of their child and doubtless they will be keen to provide the children with information about their heritage and original background, when they are old enough to understand and be interested themselves.

Our sons

Our first son’s birth parents came to London from Jamaica as teenagers. Since he was born in London, we didn’t particularly think of Jamaica. We took more interest in his position as a black Briton. Admittedly some of the picture books we bought for him came from the United States. The reason is that books featuring black characters were rare in England, and US authors such as Ezra Jack Keats had written such engaging stories.

books 2

We wanted Sam to see children who looked like himself in picture books and to feel great about himself

Jah, our second son, has an interesting mix in his original background – White English, Ghanaian/Nigerian, Dominican. (The records are a bit confused). His birth father came from Dominica in the West Indies. He lived with his birth father for over a year, so it made sense to us to mention Dominica to him. Since it has an interesting flag, we bought him one. This is the flag.

Dominican flagImage courtesy of creativedoxfoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Here is a picture of him with the flag one birthday.

Ben and flagProgrammes like “Who Do You Think You Are?” are popular in Britain.  Many people discover that they have interesting backgrounds that they knew nothing about. I guess that for those of us who have adopted children, it is our duty to tell them what we know.

 

I

Adoption. Warmhearted and welcoming friends and family. Random thoughts.

I did not prepare this short post in advance. It has just come into my head.

I think “Random thoughts” are allowed. After all, this blog is entitled Adoption Reflections.

This week I am due to attend the funeral of a great family friend. She was Sam’s godmother and was always very fond of him. Originally she came from Northern Ireland and had hardly met any black people until she met baby Sam

We only ever experienced acceptance and love from our family and friends in respect of our two adopted sons, so I feel so grateful.

I was always extremely at ease with the whole idea of adoption. Maybe this is because my best friend at school was adopted.

Last December I wrote about two Memoirs by adopted people. Since then I have read a few more. They are all books I recommend:

“Survivor” by Fatima Whitbread

Fatima W

“Why Be Happy When You could Be Normal?” by Jeanette Winterson

Jeanette W cover

A beautifully written book I can recommend is “Mother Country” by Jeremy Harding.

 Jeremy Harding cover

 Jeremy Harding inside cover

 Recently a Facebook Friend asked me whether I had seen a programme about Jamie Baulch (Olympic silver medal-winning sprinter. ) It was a programme on BBC1 Monday 17th November 2014 “Looking For My Birth Mum”. I was grateful to her for bringing my attention to the programme.

I found it extremely interesting. I liked the sound of his adopted parents and was most impressed by the careful approach of the social worker. She tried to prepare Jamie for the possible pitfalls of searching for his birth mother. These could include death of the birth mother, rejection by her, having kept his existence a secret from others etc. As it turned out, he discovered that he had a half-sister and he was able to meet his birth mother, who had always been open to her current family about the fact that he existed. All went well, although his birth mother has lung cancer and is not expected to live very long.

Here are two more names of some famous people who have spoken about being adopted.

Steve Jobs (of Apple computer fame)

Lemn Sissay (world renowned poet, whose father came from Ethiopia)

I’ll be off to Sam’s godmother’s funeral on Thursday.  She was a very good friend to our family.  I’ll be giving thanks for her life.

Here end my Random thoughts.