2021 saw a paradigm shift in the way adopted people are viewed by adoption organisations, including Adoption UK. There was increasing recognition that adopted people needed to be heard and their experiences valued. Furthermore, it is now well recognised that adopted people have a big role to play in helping to shape services and frame policy and practice, to ensure that we learn from the mistakes of the past. It is within this context that I share my hopes and aspirations for 2022 below.


Hearing is believing


Whilst as a society, we are very good at listening to things that are easier to hear, we are sometimes not very good at listening and bearing witness to other people’s pain. I recently had a very interesting conversation with my adoptive Mum, through which I realised that as humans, we all share a degree of pain and when we ‘show-up’ we bring that pain with us. Adoption is now recognised as a trauma, which has recently been re-emphasised by leading phycologist, Nancy Verrier in the latest documentary ‘Reckoning with the Primal Wound’, which has been co-created by Verrier and two adopted adults. If we do not get better at listening to adopted people’s pain, we will be woefully ill-equipped to advocate for them. We need to get better at listening to and acting on stories that challenge us and use them to help us to think outside the box. This will help us to continue to ensure that no adopted person is left behind. You can find out more about the documentary ‘Reckoning with the Primal Wound’ at https://reckoningwiththeprimalwound.com/


A bold and ambitious programme for Adopted Adults


In 2021, Adoption UK began consulting with Adopted Adults to enable it to better create a service for them to meet their needs. Adoption UK met with over 60 adopted adults to capture their experiences and what they felt was important to them. It is my hope for 2022 that we continue to be bold and ambitious in our work for adopted adults. That is because some Adopted Adults have been so badly let-down in the past. Our work for adopted adults must not be piecemeal and tokenistic, like it has sometimes been in the past.  When we get it right for adopted adults, we get it right for adopted children. That’s because when we know where the adults got it wrong before, we can leverage the learning within those mistakes to make things better for the adopted adults of tomorrow. 


Moments of courage


On a personal level, 2021 was a year of great change and mental and emotional shifts. In many ways, it felt like a year of unlearning and learning. I started the year, thinking I had all the answers, only to end the year realising I did not. One lesson I learned was that the conversation around adoption must place adopted people ‘front-and-centre’, but this does not have to mean that families, organisations, or the ‘system’ can’t have be involved. Indeed, their parenting and practise can be enriched by the learning adopted people are so readily willing to share. So, my hope for 2022 is that we continue being ‘teachable’ around the complexities and nuances of adoption. This will require us to be brave, courageous and step into our own fear and vulnerability. That can feel messy and uncomfortable sometimes. However, for me at least, the courageous and vulnerable moments of 2021 were also the moments I experienced the most growth.


I wish you the very best for 2022.

About the author: Julian Thomson, Adopted Adult, Facilitator of the Adopted People’s Network in Scotland, and Community Engagement Support Worker for the #E Project