Monthly Archives: January 2015

All change in the family situation

red telephone

Things were going along fairly well in our family in 1983.

Our elder daughter, Lucy was attending a ballet company school in London.

dancer f

Anna, our second daughter had completed one year in the 6th Form College, where she was so relieved that it was a college for both boys and girls. She had had enough of an all-girls’ school!

Sam was about to move to a secondary school.

Jah had settled well into the family. He was now in his last year in the local Infants school.

And then D. received the telephone call that changed everything entirely for the whole family.  He was invited to apply for an international role in the denomination of our church. Up till then he had always been a local pastor. If he were successful, this would mean a move to London.

London view

Image courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So far, during our married life, D. and I and Lucy and Anna had lived in:

  • Forest Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne for 7 years.
  • Birmingham (briefly for 3 months’ training before going to W. Malaysia)
  • Johor Bahru West Malaysia for 3 years. (where the girls could both switch from Malaysian- English to English-English at the drop of a hat)
  • Caterham Surrey (for about 6 months, before the placement at the new church)
  • Low Fell, Gatesheadback to Tyneside for 7 years.
  • Leicester for just over 3 years.

Sam, who came to us as a baby of a few weeks, had lived in South London with an excellent short-term foster mother. He then lived with us in:

  • Low Fell, Gateshead upon Tyne  (where he picked up a lovely Tyneside accent)
  • Leicester (where he quickly “lost” the Tyneside accent, because the Leicester children said they could not understand what he said.)

    Jah
    had lived in:
  • various places in North London, then
  • Sussex (with excellent short-term foster parents)
  • Leicester with all the family

Clearly, moving was something we were all used to and most of us were quite prepared to move once more. I did have a fleeting worry about Jah, but I argued to myself that if something were good for the family as a whole, it would work out for him.  He looks quite happy  in these photos taken in the first summer he was with us.

beside the sea       2 musketeers

However in those days he was still settling down and was anxious about the formal adoption and now this was all behind him. He was secure in the knowledge that he was a fully-fledged member of the family.

Arriving Leicester

(Reminder of the day that Jah came to live in our family home in Leicester, nearly 3 years previously. Photo taken before the advent of digital cameras.  Nowadays you can retake photos, where you have cut off peoples’ heads!)

****

D. was successful in obtaining the new post and big plans had to be made.

 When I look back,  the move obviously affected the whole family, but I think that it had the most marked effect on Anna and young Sam. See my next blog post.

Why I started writing my blog

My blog began in September 2013 because there were many things I wanted to say about adopting children of a different race. They are things I have learned as we went along and many are things that I feel strongly about. They are things that I wanted to share. I also wanted to describe how well we were served by our social workers.  Social workers don’t always get a good press.

Recently I have indulged in a few reflections about heritage and backgrounds.

I would now like to return to the narrative/memoir about Jah. When Jah joined our family he was nearly four years old. By then Sam was eight years old and the big sisters were fourteen and sixteen.

Scotland 1980

This photo was taken during our first summer holiday as a family of 6.  We went camping in Scotland.

Throughout their childhood we tried to give both Sam and Jah as much contact with black people as possible. When Jah joined us we were living in Leicester. In that city there was an annual multiracial festival held at the De Montfort Hall, a big public venue and we all enjoyed that. We made some good friends who had adopted a boy and a girl, both of Indian heritage. It was a really good feeling to be able to mix with people of all colours and from a variety of traditions. We enjoyed the music, the food, looking at the different fashions – everything!

Then we joined a group called “Harmony “ and that was excellent.

Harmony badge At Harmony group meetings we met mixed race and adoptive families and the children enjoyed relaxing times with the children. We parents benefitted from discussing shared issues. There was not much information available in those days. Today there are many organisations and much information about health, skin care, hair care and other important matters, as well as post-adoption support. Today one can find out so much via the Internet.

We did what we could to make contact with black people. D. took Sam to steel band practice in a Caribbean area of the city.

134px-Aasteeldrum

child steel band 1Picture courtesy of Owen Lydiard

He enjoyed playing in the band. He also took part in a drama group. In that group he was the only black child and had a role of a “baddie” – (reinforcing a negative image?) not good of course, but he enjoyed performing so we just left it.

As Sam neared the age for choosing a secondary school, we did careful research into the possible schools. As far as we could see, there were hardly any black boys at the local secondary school, so we made enquiries further afield. Fortunately we discovered one school that seemed to have more awareness of the need to acknowledge diversity.

We were about to sign Sam up for that school when D. received a telephone call that was about to change everything entirely for the whole family!

 

Happy New Year! Multiracial families and sundry observations.

+ Interesting backgrounds (still continued. . . )

I wish all readers of this blog and their loved ones a Very Happy New Year.

Here’s hoping for great things in 2015!

New Year message Image courtesy of potowizard at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

(According to “Counterize” statistics, readers come from many different countries. That is great to know.)

In my last few blog posts I have been musing about peoples’ interesting backgrounds. Here are just a few more things I’d like to say on this subject, as well as mentioning some interesting facts.

If I were to choose an area of study today, I would be interested in looking back far into history and learning about how ancient peoples travelled around the globe. Now that scientists understand DNA, they surely have a greater understanding of where certain tribes originated.

camels travelling

Image courtesy of m_bartosch at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Another extremely interesting area of study would be linguistics. I only dabbled into that arena briefly when studying for a degree. It is extremely complicated. But isn’t it mysterious that some languages have developed such incredibly difficult grammatical structures and that these just came about naturally! However complicated and mysterious this process was, I do know that no living language ever originated from a group of ‘elders’ sitting in a circle round the room and dreaming up rules of grammar.

round the world Image courtesy of Vlado at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

While we are musing on interesting facts, here is one that I read about in The Metro in July 2014. The figures come from the Office for National Statistics. The quotation reads:

Metro Diversity “Almost one in ten of all couples living together in England and Wales are of mixed ethnicity, latest figures have revealed.”

Here is another interesting fact:

Apparently Polish is now the second largest mother tongue language spoken in our schools in England today. Clearly many other mother tongues are represented. You can discover this by visiting any Nursery School, or Primary School that greets visitors with “Welcome” or “Hello” written in all the languages spoken in the local school community.

WelcomeImage courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, to repeat myself, I say  “Happy New Year” to long-standing readers and a big “Welcome” to newcomers to my blog.

In the next post I shall carry on with the story of Jah, a little boy who came to join our family when he was aged nearly four.