Adoption UK - 50th Anniversary

Adoption UK 50 Years logoAdoption UK is 50! 

50 is a big milestone, and an opportunity to pause, reflect and plan for the futureFor 50 years we have supported, advocated, championed and been there for adoptive families around the UK.

Today our cause is as clear and compelling as ever; to secure the right support at the right time for the children at the heart of every adoptive and kinship care family.  

For Adoption UK, this all began in 1971, when Elvis Presley and The Jackson 5 were in the charts, a gallon of petrol was 33p and two adopters starting running a voluntary organisation from their homes, for adopted children with special needsAdoption has changed a lot since then, and so have we. 

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DaveMy father was called up in 1939 for World War II and was granted two days’ leave to marry my mother at the end of 1940. In 1942 he was posted to North Africa and I was born in June 1943. I was 2½ before he saw me so he missed my dirty nappies.

I still remember the evening he came home at the end of 1945, this strange man in his khaki army uniform. Next morning he whisked me off to the hairdresser to have my hair cut – “no boy of mine is going to look like a girl”, he said. We lived in the East End of London and life was tough and discipline hard. I had my share of smacked bottoms and, at grammar school, my share of caning. This was my understanding of upbringing.

I'm now a 78 year old grandparent and live with my wife in Warwickshire.

We have a delightful granddaughter who is now 13, so when our daughter announced that she was pregnant a few years ago, it was a great joy to us to be looking forward to a new grandchild. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be that easy. Our daughter had five miscarriages in the space of three years and the toll on her and her husband, and us, was immense.

After careful thought they decided to consider adoption. This was to be a whole new experience for us. Adoption was what happened when babies were born out of wedlock and other similar situations. We were soon to learn that it is different now.

We are fortunate that we have a close and open relationship with our daughter. Right from the beginning, we were taken into their journey, and we realised it was unlikely they would adopt a (nearly) newborn. We learnt that their child was likely to come with problems, seen and unseen, and it came as quite a shock to us to learn that they were attracted to a nearly seven-year-old boy. It is one thing when you grow up with a grandchild from birth, but it is quite different to have a ready-made grandson.

The first couple of weeks were relatively smooth but then a very troubled boy emerged. He was prone to violent outbursts, smashing up anything around him and hitting out at anybody who came near him. Having to sit back and watch the violence unfold was incredibly difficult. We wanted to step in but had to allow our daughter and son-in-law to deal with the situation. Watching a seven-year-old knocking seven bells out of your 40+ daughter is one of the most difficult things I have had to face. This all took its toll on us.

Therapeutic parenting was a completely new concept for us, although there were a lot of similarities with how we brought up our own children. We decided the best and only way we could support them was to learn all we could. Adoption UK community groups were a godsend to me.

Our grandson has now been home for over two years and, in his calmer moments, which are becoming increasingly frequent, he is turning out to be a lovely boy. We have established a good relationship with him and we are growing to love him as each day passes. Whilst we still have fears for the future, especially as he moves into his teenage years, we are confident that he has the best chance with our daughter and son-in-law.

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