Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Adoption: Great, When It Works

Posted by jonathanfryer on Tuesday, 25th August, 2015

imageAccording to a news item in Family Law News today, an adoption has been revoked after a child applied successfully to return to their biological mother. Things have certainly come on a long way since I was adopted, when even a request for information about my mother (whom my adoptive parents had actually met) was rejected angrily with accusations of being ungrateful. It was not even possible to trace one’s origins oneself until many years later, when David Owen introduced the right for adopted children to obtain their original birth certificate. Although I was by then fully adult, it was nonetheless hugely emotional to discover my original identity as Graeme Leslie Morton, rather than Jonathan Harold Fryer. The journey since then in being united with two half-sisters and discovering more about my background has been exciting but also unsettling. It has certainly reinforced my belief that adoptive parents should always be ready to help the adopted child be comfortable with their origins as well as with their adoptive family. In the old days, too often the process of adoption was all about giving couples who were not able to produce their own children, for whatever reason, the opportunity to acquire one (or more). And in most cases they thereby also won brownie points for taking in a child who would otherwise be stigmatised by illegitimacy, which was a serious issue half a century ago. In other words, the process of adoption was seen by the powers that be as parent-focused, rather than child-focused, as it is today.

imageThere are far stricter conditions these days about who can adopt, which can be frustrating for childless couples but which probably means that fewer unsuitable adoptions take place, which must benefit the children. The news about the possibility of adoption revocation is another welcome advance in the rights of the child, though of course this would only affect a tiny number of cases. Adoption as an institution is great, when it works, and I know many people who grew up in a truly happy adoptive family. But it does not always work, and I know from my own experience how painful it can sometimes be as an adopted child to feel trapped.

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One Response to “Adoption: Great, When It Works”

  1. I’m so sorry it didn’t go better for you. Wishing you peace.

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