Tag Archives: adoption

ADOPTION TODAY – Help/information/support

My last blog ended with this sentence “I have heard that there is more help for adopted and looked-after children nowadays.”

This is good news for people involved in adoption today.

Sam had been with us for one whole year in 1973 before we ever read or heard anything helpful about bringing up a black child as white parents. This was when our Adoption Agency sent us an article from an organisation called “The Open Door Society” in Canada . As I wrote in one of my earliest blogs:

The main thrust that came through to us was that ‘Love is not enough…  Society will see your children as black…  …… The parents have a responsibility to instil in their child, through the media of literature, art and music, a pride and understanding of his racial heritage.” 

 Apart from the only two multiracial families that we met in the North East of England, our support came mainly from the organisation called Harmony that we encountered when we moved to Leicester in the Midlands.

Harmony-badge

Harmony was an organisation for multi-racial families whether by adoption, fostering or through mixed-race marriages. It was at Harmony gatherings in the 1980s that we learned a lot about skin care and hair care, It was a supportive forum where we could share information  for example about books and toys that showed children who looked like our children.

Aurora 006

 

 

 

 

I have written about this before. So what is new nowadays?

  • More books featuring the diversity of our population (even if not yet enough. . .)
  • Recruitment of people from ethnic minorities in most areas of Social Work
  • Adoption websites, discussion forums, blogs, shared Tweets  #Adoption.  THESE CAN BE DISCOVERED VIA GOOGLING “ADOPTION SUPPORT”
  • Greater awareness in schools about the special situation of “looked after” children
  • Training and information for families. See the Pac-UK site:  Here below is information about help that is offered in schools in England.

http://www.pac-uk.org/   “From April 2014, schools in England can receive the Pupil Premium for children adopted from care, or who left care under a Special Guardianship Order on or after 30 December 2005. Schools can also claim the Pupil Premium for children who left care under a Residence Order on or after 14 October 1991.

The Pupil Premium is to help schools raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap with their peers.  It is paid to schools in respect of disadvantaged pupils in Reception to Year 11. The Government has extended the coverage of the Pupil Premium in recognition of the traumatic experiences many adopted children have endured in their early lives and a realisation that their needs do not change overnight”.

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I wish this kind of help had been available for Jah in the 1980s. (sigh)

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+ A Helpful booklet published in 2014

In April 2014 a group of multi-racial families in Cornwall has published an extremely helpful booklet in partnership with Barnardo’s.

“Children Visible by Colour in Cornwall: Suggestions for parents and carers raising BME (black and minority ethnic) and dual heritage children who are ‘visible by colour’.”

Kowetha doc

Kowetha is a pioneering community group of parents and carers living in the West of Cornwall who are raising BME and dual heritage children who are ‘visible by colour’.

The Kowetha Community group has written a handbook to support other families of diverse racial background, which is also valuable for teachers and practitioners. The handbook has been supported by Barnardo’s and considers the following:

  • How a child’s racial heritage influences their childhood experiences in Cornwall.
  • The importance of moving beyond ‘colour blindness’ and positively educating children in Cornish schools about racial diversity.
  • How schools and agencies might recognise and support the unique social pressures experienced by children who are visible by colour, thus meeting their duties under Ofsted.

The advice, information and shared experiences are applicable for all multi-racial families wherever they live . I can heartily recommend it.

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.

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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!