A guest blog from an adoptive teen from St Andrew’s Children’s Society who attends our Teen Group.
A Real Life Life-Story (Work)
Moving through the care system and onto adoption isn’t like the movies. In the movies, adoption life stories show everyone prancing around and, in the end, they finish with happy and perfect lives. I wish my life was like that, but real adoption life-stories are more complicated, confusing and filled with so many emotions.
Before I was adopted, I had been in and out of care since I was 7. I was later adopted age 9 and moved from England to Scotland. Growing up having known your birth parents and then being taken miles away with people you don’t know is such a strange feeling. On top of that, still having memories of your birth family, especially in my case my Dad, was very hard.
Over time, my memories of my life before my adoption kind of faded, though the feeling of having a connection with my birth dad has remained. I left my birth mum quite young, as she couldn’t manage, so I don’t really remember her.
When I was 14 years old, I started doing life story work with my Social Worker Mike. At first, this felt like yet another stranger that I was expected to trust. As I got to know him, I started to feel like I could trust him. I think what helped me build trust with Mike is what he did to earn it. We would go on walks and have a chat about how I was managing at school and at home. We also spoke about how I was managing physically as well as mentally.
Before the life story work, I would always ask my adopted parents questions that they didn’t necessarily know all the answers to. I would ask them things like, “Are my birth family alright?”, “Where’s my dad?”, “Can I have contact with my family?”, “Why weren’t my family given more chances to keep me?”.
During the life story work, I would sometimes get really angry at home and at school – mainly at the people I was close with. I did, and still do, find some things difficult to accept. However, this changed when I did eventually allowed myself to get angry with what I had been through, rather than those around me.
If you’re thinking about starting life story work, here are some things I think you should think about:
- Are you mentally ready? You really need to prepare yourself for the things that you could find out. The good and the bad.
- You should know that the Social Workers will work really hard to find out as much information as they can to answer your questions, but sometimes, your questions may not be answered and may never be answered.
During the actual work I came to the realisation that my behaviour at home and school was partly because of the things that I have been through. It helped me to see that I used to want to fix my Dad and I wondered that if I found him, maybe I could still fix him.Doing the work helped me see that some parents can’t be fixed, no matter how much they love you. However, the biggest home truth I learned, was finally accepting that what I went through was not my fault. Not at all. Not ever.
If you or any other adopted teenager you know might be struggling right now, tell them about Teen Talk. Teen Talk is free online support service where adopted teens help other adopted teens make sense of their thoughts, feelings and worries, visit www.scottishadoption.org/teentalk for more information.