Labels. In their simplest form they’re just indicators. They give us a little bit of information to identify with. But most of us know that labels only give us a fraction of the story. And none us like it when we find that a label has been attached to ourselves.
That’s why at Caritas Care we try to avoid using any labels. It’s not easy. Adoption Services, Social Services, Education Services…they all have their own terminology and sometimes it’s difficult to extract ourselves from the lingo and see the real lives that go on behind it.
You may have heard the term ‘Harder to Place’. It refers to children whose circumstances mean that statistically it takes us longer to find them their new family. From a ‘numbers only’ point of view this means children over the age of 4, children in sibling groups or children with additional needs.
This rather negative sounding label has absolutely no bearing on the children it represents, who are brilliant and unique and beautiful in their own ways. And who – despite falling into the statistically ‘harder to place’ category – may actually be ‘perfectly placed’ in your family.
The key is go beyond the label, beyond the numbers and get to know the children themselves.
Do you remember what it was like to be 4?
The world was just beginning to open up and you were exploring, tasting, discovering and taking delight in new things every day. It really was just the beginning…and yet there is a pervading and mistaken idea that only by adopting a baby can new parents make a fundamental impact on a child’s life.
Understandably, this may stem from a fear of missing out. Society puts a great deal of focus on first-times. Baby’s first smile, baby’s first food, baby’s first crawl etc. But these traditional milestones are not a given in any family arrangement. Sometimes babies never crawl but go straight to walking. Sometimes boys don’t want to go to football with their dads.
The truth is that life is full of firsts, maybe different kinds of firsts – but no less significant or crucial to our development as happy and fulfilled human beings. Sometimes it’s the most unexpected firsts that become our favourite memories.
And while all these extraordinary little events are happening, whilst children are developing into fascinating individuals with their own special interests and skills, they still need a hand to hold and a cuddle at bed time. Older children need as much love and reassurance and support as a baby. They need much more direction and guidance.
Adopting an older child means that you can help a child navigate the tricky art of growing up, right at the point when they need it most. And being there when you’re most needed is parenting 101.
Nearly half of all the children waiting in care have brothers or sisters or both.
These siblings are their family. They are the only people in the world who know and understand their story the way they do. In a turbulent period of their lives, their sibling has been their one true constant. Keeping this little unit together, as much as possible, is heart-breakingly crucial.
But consider the joy and the privilege of enfolding their precious family into your own.
Yes there are more mouths to feed. But who doesn’t want a lovely loud family dinner table?
Yes, there will be more demands. But there will also be more laughs, more stories, more fun.
And yes, they will always be a unit. But they will always be individuals too, who will shine for you in their own ways and who you will learn to parent differently.
In the end, that special bond that kept those siblings together, will be something that connects your entire family. Love isn’t finite, it doesn’t get diluted for every sibling who comes along. It’s designed to be shared. It can only grow.
Children with Additional Needs
“When somebody loves you, it’s no good unless they love you, all the way.
Through the good and lean years and through all the in between years, come what may.”
– Frank Sinatra
Adopting a child with additional needs is exactly the same as giving birth to a child who has or develops additional needs.
It’s not the ‘need’ that comes first. It’s the child. When you discover what a marvellous bright and brilliant spark they are, and how much they love you regardless of your own strengths and weaknesses – you also discover an amazing capacity to put them first.
You delight in their triumphs and you support them through their challenges. Each of these experiences builds and strengthens family bonds like nothing else. Everyone grows. More importantly, everyone grows together.
It’s a mountain to climb. There’s hard work ahead. But the team at Caritas Care will dig in with you. You’ll get all the training and guidance that your entire family needs.
And the views will amaze you.
Last Word on Labels
Probably the label that has the most prejudice and judgement attached is ‘Adopted’.
This is changing.
Society is redefining what ‘normal’ is when it comes to issues around family and parenting. We are learning that ‘adoptive parents’ are just as vital and qualified and natural as ‘birth parents’.
Regardless of couple or single status, economic or cultural background, religious diversity or sexual orientation – how you grow your family is a personal choice beyond labels.
The children waiting deserve that same personal respect. They are not ‘harder to place’ – just ‘harder to see’ beyond the label. Please give them that opportunity to show you who they really are. You won’t regret it.
Call Caritas Care to have a chat about adopting on 0800 652 6955 or drop us an email by going to http://caritascare-iadopt.org.uk/contact-us/