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Actor & Adult Adoptee, Chris Rankin, Talks About Adoption

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Guest Blog by Chris Rankin


I MENTIONED IN AN #ASKCHRIS SESSION ON TWITTER THAT I’M ADOPTED. WELL, I AM!

Being adopted isn’t something I talk about very much. Not because I’m ashamed of it, nor because it hurts, or that it’s a sensitive subject, because, I’m not, it doesn’t, it’s not. It’s my story, that’s all and it’s a personal one at that. Equally, it’s just my life, I don’t see it as a “thing”. It’s my normal.

“The general assumption with adopted kids is that they aren’t or weren’t wanted by their birth parents.”

When I was growing up, adoption was often used as a negative, used as a joke or a put-down. I’d hear people using adoption as an insult, or a joke to differentiate someone from the rest of their family. The general assumption with adopted kids is that they aren’t or weren’t wanted by their birth parents. Well, in some cases, sadly that may be true. In my case, I happen to know that my birth parents didn’t NOT want me, they just weren’t in a position where they were able to give me the life they would have wanted for me. Let’s just say, my understanding of the situation was that I was a “surprise” in the early stages of a relationship neither my birth mother nor birth father were ready to bring a child into.

I also know that my Mum and Dad (my adoptive parents) ABSOLUTELY wanted me. They wanted me more than anything in the world. That’s why they adopted me.

In New Zealand in the 80s (I don’t know if this is still true) all adopted little children and babies were given a little booklet with some information in it about their birth parents and why they were adopted. I’ve still got mine, and it’s the most reassuring thing. It answers all the questions I think I want to know the answers to:

  • Why was I adopted?
  • Who were my birth parents? Not their names, just a bit of basic info about age, occupation, complexion – I get the ginger from my mother’s side.
  • Birth family medical history (nothing to report)
  • Siblings (when I was born, there were others before me from previous marriages, there is every chance there could be more after me)

I think that’s all I need to know. Not once in the 34 years I’ve been on this planet have I ever really seriously considered actually FINDING my birth parents. Sure, I’ve had days where I’ve wondered who they are, what they’re doing, and how often I’m thought of.

Of course, it’s crossed my mind that they, their other children, grandchildren, my birth siblings, nieces, nephews etc, have seen Harry Potter and probably have them stored there on the dvd shelves. That blows my little mind and makes me chuckle. I like to imagine them all sat there going “doesn’t he look like Uncle Brian?”. Do they know they had a brother who was adopted? Who knows?! I don’t know them, and although it would be curious to have siblings, having grown up as an only child, I haven’t felt like I’ve missed out for one minute.


My feeling is that we, as a western culture, often default to adoption as something that rich celebrities do (think Madonna, Angelina). I don’t think we consider why it is that people may want, or choose to adopt nearly enough. There’s the obvious reason to leap to, of course being infertility. But there are and SHOULD be so many other reasons to consider adoption.

“…think about all the publicity there is around adopting dogs and cats… There are thousands of children in care across the UK, all of them need permanent, caring, solid homes to go to, where they can learn to be the best that they can be, and know that they are loved. But we don’t promote that in the same way?”

This might come slightly out of left field, but think about all the publicity there is around adopting dogs and cats. There are thousands of badly treated and unwanted animals in shelters and homes around the country, and we all know about it. We all know that it’s cheaper and more responsible to give a rescue animal a home, rather than hand over hundreds, even thousands of pounds to a breeder. But can the same be said about children? There are thousands of children in care across the UK, all of them need permanent, caring, solid homes to go to, where they can learn to be the best that they can be, and know that they are loved. But we don’t promote that in the same way?

Why?

I don’t know the answer to that, but perhaps it is to do with the social expectations. Deep down, after all, our purpose on this planet is to pro-create. To do the sex and pop out the next generation. The stigma against people who struggle, for whatever reason, to conceive children naturally is RIDICULOUS, and I think that part of the reason there is such a lack of promotion around adoption. I mean, what if we all thought carefully before settling down to have babies? What if we thought seriously about how important it is to create a small human in the vague hope it resembles all you and your partner’s best qualities, and whether or not it’s actually more important to give a safe and caring home to a child who otherwise may not have one? How much of a difference does it make in the long run? The child will still be the product of your upbringing, care, love and time, no different to if you’d been incubating them for 9months.

Adoption is a gift, both to the adopters and the adoptee. Imagine being given a chance to shine, either as parents or as a child that may not have had an opportunity otherwise. How SPECIAL. And how selfless to give a child that life.


So them’s my feelings on the subject.

Like everything I write about, it’s something that’s really close to my heart. I’m not usually one to talk openly about a lot of things, I like to keep my private life relatively personal. Having said that, I’m starting to realize that there are things that have happened in my life, that if I tell you about them, if I put those words out there, then maybe they can help or reassure someone reading them. At the very least, I hope you find it interesting and enlightening.

I always welcome discussion too, and hope that if you have any questions about my story or my opinions in anything I write, that you’ll comment below 🙂


chris-rankinChris Rankin was 16 years old when 
he sent off a letter asking for an
audition to play Percy Weasley in 
"Harry Potter and the Philosopher's
Stone". He went on to play the role
for 11 years.
These days, Chris can be found in
Cardiff, working for a TV Production
Company, making high end TV drama.
Chris is a regular at Comic Cons and Events around the
world, where he regularly meets with the fan community
and speaks about his experiences in one of the most
beloved and successful film franchises in cinema history.

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6 Tips To Build Relationship With Birth Parents

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As a foster parent, many of us tend to join the journey to help children. Before getting licensed many parents tend to dream about spending holidays with foster kiddo or celebrating the child’s birthday. We think about all the fun traditions and ways we can give the child special moments.

One significant person and relationship we do not consider pre-foster care is our relationship with the birth parent during the foster care journey. Usually we begin to really try to hash the relationship out after we are already in the deep in the middle of the journey. It’s too late to prepare our minds and emotions when we are in the thick of the journey.

Even though it is obvious, it is significant enough to state here that the foster child and birth parent relationship is extremely important to maintain if at all possible. Thus, it should be important for, us, the foster parents to approach this relationship in the best manner possible.


6 Tips for Engaging Birth Parents

  1. APPROACH WITH HUMILITY
    It could be simple for a foster parent to get a “moral license” from the fostering situation – feeling as though they are superior for caring for a child when the birth parent cannot. However, as foster or adoptive parents, we must remember that WE, ourselves, are only a few bad decisions away from being in their situation. We should NEVER look upon parents with superiority but with a strong humility that soberingly realizes we could easily be where they are at in a few days….
    How do you want to be treated?
  2. Reassurance – You’re Not going to take kids
    You are there to help the FAMILY not the child. It might be very easy to get excited about our own agenda for helping foster children or simply welcoming a child into our home that we can forget that the goal for ALL foster children first and foremost is to return the child back home.
  3. Expect the Worst While Hoping For the Best
    Never forget that you are quite possibly seeing your foster kiddo’s parent at their worst. Many of us have moments that we are not proud of but they are not made public to various strangers and agency workers. This is quite frankly embarrassing and can cause a huge hit to one’s self-esteem to the point where you fight to feel that you are worthy of anything. Possibly the way some birth parents hope to find reclaimed worth is by making the foster parent appear to be horrible so they seem better.
    It’s a normal response that anyone would unconsciously make when we feel like we are cornered – we FIGHT for survival. However, among all of these feelings while we are expecting the worst, we should still approach any contact with a birth parent hoping for the best outcome.
  4. Be Secure With Yourself
    When you don’t see eye to eye with a birth parent (or maybe even your agency), you need to remember who you are and not focus on what people are saying about you. As foster parents, we may tend to get caught up in the performance of our care for the children in our care. However, we must remember that our performance doesn’t make us who we are. If you get caught in this mindset, you WILL take a things personally and let things affect you when people begin to criticize your parenting skills.
  5. Communication. Communication. Communication.
    Throughout the foster journey one thing that commonly frustrates foster parents is the feeling that they are not being included with all the information of a case while attempting to help a child through the whole situation. We must entertain the idea that the birth parent also must be equally frustrated with the same system.
    Providing a birth parent with as much information as possible can (with time) alleviate fears of the birth parent and help to eventually get both of you onto the same “team.” What should you share with the birth parent?

    • Medical Appointments
    • Photos/Videos of Milestones or successes in the Child’s Life
      First step, first haircut, loose teeth, graduations, a good grade on a test, first day of school, first time driving a car, and so on.
    • Struggles
      Is their child having trouble making friends? trouble in math? scared at night?
    • Child misses mom and/or dad
      It can be a good motivator and comforting to know that you’re not forgotten and missed by a loved one.Be sure to utilize services such as Facebook, E-mail, and Google Voice to easily help you keep the lines of communication open. All of these services allow to create accounts that are not your primary services with all of your personal information attached to them. Also, be sure to consult with your foster agency about the rules your state as about using social media and sharing various information or photos.
  6. Find A Tribe
    Every foster and adoptive parent should have a group of caregivers which they talk and/or meet with at regular intervals. There is something relaxing and therapeutic about talking about your life issues with other people that are on a similar life journey. Other foster/adoptive parents will simply be able to understand your situation better and will be able to listen better. The foster journey is difficult and you will need people to help you get back in the game when the waters of life get choppy.

Transfiguring Adoption offers a weekly online support group which meets on Facebook and YouTube every Monday at 8pm EST. [Learn More]


What tips would you add to the list?

Comment below or E-mail us at: info@transfiguringadoption.com


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Life Work With Children Who Are Fostered or Adopted

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From the Cover of Life Work with Children Who Are Fostered or Adopted by Joy Rees:

“This new book from life work expert Joy Rees explains the value of effective and meaningful life work with children who are fostered and adopted, and how best to carry it out.

This book will help social work professionals, foster carers and adopters understand the many aspects of life work, and to consider the important contributions they can all  make to this task. Life work is about helping children know and understand their personal stories and the life experiences that have shaped them. Enabling children to reach their potential and achieve the best possible outcome is the common goal, and this is best achieved by using the collaborative approach to life work advocated in this book.”


Grade:

5 hoots out of 5

Transfiguring Adoption awarded this book 5 Hoots out of 5 based on how useful it will be for a foster/adoptive family. [Learn more about our Hoot grading system here]


What Our Family Thought:

This book provides caregivers and professionals with information about life work (also known as life story books, life journey work, etc). The author breaks down the specifics of the definition of the term life work, as well as going into clearly understood purpose for the importance of a life story book. She states, “The fundamental purpose of life work with all children in care is to help them understand their history and to gain a sense of their identity.” Next, Rees explores theoretical framework, having “thorough knowledge of child development, including brain development, attachment theory, and developmental trauma.” Each stage of developmental age is explored in relation to how to tackle life work at the different developmental stages, what is developmentally appropriate. The next section in the book discusses the importance of the child’s team and their knowledge of their story/development/life details. These important people in the child’s life can help make sure every detail they know can be recorded and documented for the child’s life work. The information gathered can really help the child put the pieces together in the future, pieces of their story that they may not have any information about. This section of the book seems to have the most detailed examples of what can be used to create life work for a child: Preparation and processing, observation, listening, and play, memories, memory books, and boxes, photographs, life journey work, therapeutic stories, child appreciation days, life story books, later life letters, contact,  and finally, adoption and care records. The appendix in the book has sample questionaires for caregivers/case workers to fill out, sample later life letters, and suggested reading lists for adults and children.

This book has done a wonderful job of explaining the why’s as well as the how to’s to help professionals as well as caretakers help create life work for children in foster care or adoption. It stresses the importance of coming together as a coordinated team for the sake of the child’s story, helping the child have a more thorough documentation of their past, for them in the future.

A quick and easy read, this book is for sure worth sharing with others in the adoption and foster care community. It isn’t just perfect for the foster/adoptive family but also therapists, case workers, judges, teachers, etc.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


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