Sunday, January 24, 2010


I'm reading a UK adoption classic - Adoption, a Second Chance, by Barbara Tizard, one of the very first books on "modern" adoption - adoption of children who were fostered (in this case, in residential nurseries) before being placed for adoption between the ages of 2 and 7. The research for the book took place in the late 60s and early 70s, but plus ca change... Some of the problems are just sooo familiar - agencies taking forever to make a permanency plan, to find out medical information, etc. etc.

Thankfully neither residential nurseries nor the laws that meant birth parents could hem and haw for years while their child languished in care still exist. Some of the adoptive families sound lovely, too - especially those who had children placed around 5 to 7 years old and who seem to love spending time playing with their children - something that, as the authors comment, in that era even middle-class birth children and earlier-adopted children would not really do when they were 8 - it was a time of "play on your own", in the street if you were working-class and in your room or the garden if you were middle-class.

Several of the children were relinquished but deemed "difficult to place" because of medical issues (including a broken leg!) and race. The chapter on race makes me very grateful to live in today's world. Only one parent out of the 10 or so trans-racial placements made an effort to promote her child's heritage (Indian in her case). About half of the families, at the age of 8, said their child "hadn't yet noticed they were coloured"!!!!! Some of the adoptive families (perhaps 3 out of the 10?) had at least one family member (father, I think, in all cases) who was actively racist, or at least would be termed so today.

But as Mr Spouse said, one mother at least said one thing that was right. "I don't think he realises he's coloured, he comes home and he's been teasing other children at school, and I tell him it's not nice, it's not good to be calling other children 'darkie' and 'w*g''". Too right.

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