Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The Shallow or Deep Water Challenge

The article in the Guardian on name choices for prospective adopters and name changes for the adopted is there for all to read. I have to say I am saddened with the findings (or are they just opinion?) that prospective adopters are shallow - particularly surrounding name choice versus child to adopt.
I am not that shallow just to reply with my opinion of the author of the article - although I do find it sad, that it seems as if someone with these thoughts/findings/opinions of prospective adopters is part of a panel approving prospective adopters... but that is not for me to judge....

As a prospective adopter from a background in education, I have taught many children and associations over the years have been made amongst colleagues between children taught and names to avoid when choosing names for your child, friends have said that when choosing names for their child that they couldn't name their child blah as they taught blah and would therefore always be reminded of blah, as if the name goes with the character.
Well, we have all seen the episode of Only Fools and Horses, haven't we, when Damien is born and the association of a name and character is right there!
So, perhaps , everyone who has the privilege of naming a child, or pre-judging a child with a name, is guilty.
Hyacinth Bucket, would be another classic comedy example, that once again, we can all relate to, can't we? Or would that be making us all shallow?

Anyway, back to the shallow waters.
Prospective adopters do not have the privilege of naming a child.
Prospective adopters inherit a name, which  for the purpose of the article, seems to cause prospective adopters to dismiss a child from their glossy profiles to be wanted for adoption.

My story, as a single prospective adopter is this.
I had become a member of Be My Parent, prior to being approved, so that I could begin to look at children on line, to get a feel for profiles to learn more about the complex needs and issues described. It was heart wrenching.
I wanted them all, single children and sibling groups.

I will be honest, some names are hilarious... Eileen Dover, Paige Turner, to name a few polite ones - and when you add in your own existing family groups or even your surname, some names could just sound, well, unfortunate or the butt of many a playground joke or just rude - but to dismiss then because of a name? I am not sure. Might need counselling, or might need to realistically change a name because of the lethal name combination.
Call me Irma Shallow.....

After I was approved as a prospective adopter, I attended an exchange day - with around 40 local authorities - all with an exhibition stand - each with 100's and 100's and 100's of faces and faces and faces displayed on boards with their profiles printed for all there to see - each one silently and simultaneously excruciatingly calling and shouting, leaping up and down like Donkey in Shrek: pick me, pick me!
I couldn't pick them all.
I was only approved for one child.
Just one.
Only one.

I came home from the exchange day with 60 profiles in my bag.
I had to look through them over the weekend and make a list of my top 10 possible profiles, before emailing my social worker with my top 4 - and she said she would follow up on 2 at a time.

I based my in initial top 10 from my agreed criteria that I had worked through with my social worker.
I plunged into deep waters to soul search and work out what kind of child I could parent.
I read and re-read through my 60 profiles that I just started with, before making my initial list.
I then spent hours reading and digesting a few 60 page chronology reports and complete child profiles on my initial possible profiles before I found the right child for me.

I didn't have a list of names that I had pre-conceived ideas for many years of naming my children in my dreams.
I didn't have a list of names that I would dismiss - well, perhaps the child with the same name as aunty so and so or your ex, could be complicated, or perhaps the Damien one would have haunted me for a while a la Only Fools and Horses style - but seriously, no - for me, the deep water challenge was never about the name - or the desire to change a name.

The challenge of choosing the right match for me was incredibly hard emotionally, for the guilt too, of the ones you have to simply say no to because you are approved for only one child. The hours too of looking through paperwork and deciding if you can realistically parent this child bore no resemblance to a name.

As an adopted person, my name was changed when I was adopted and it was hidden from me for many, many, years until I was brave enough to bring it out from the depths, when I filed for my adoption paperwork and actually, I have no attachment or belonging or identity to those original names but rather, for me a sense of completeness. Yes, they are a part of me. My connectedness, not hidden anymore. Names are part of our identity and belonging, yes. Our heritage too.

I am delighted to be giving my newly adopted daughter a middle name - which she loves too.
I have given it a lot of deep thought, too.

The challenge as a prospective adopter to parent an adopted child is to dive into deep and at times murky waters. It is never shallow.
I was never approved to be shallow.
And would never work as hard as I did over such a long tome, to be approved, to be simply shallow.

Please don't call me Shallow, or might just have to change my name.


  1. What a fantastic and heartfelt piece. It was the idea that adoptive parents make shallow, snap decisions on adopting a child which was perhaps the most distressing and offensive element of Fraser McAlpine's. article. Your post so eloquently sets out the truth of these difficult, considered decisions.

    1. thank you for your kind words and thanks for stopping by here at my blog. I thought your thoughts on the article too were very inspiring too.


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