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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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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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The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting: Book Review

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From the Cover of The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting: Strategies and Solutions by Sarah Naish:

“Therapeutic parenting is a deeply nurturing parenting style, and is especially effective for children with attachment difficulties, or those who have experienced trauma. This book provides everything you need to know in order to effectively therapeutically parent.

The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting gives parents and caregivers an easy to follow step-by-step process to use when responding to common behaviors and challenges presented by traumatized children. Topics range from acting aggressively to difficulties with sleep, and include advice on what might trigger these issues, and how to respond to them therapeutically, in order to start to resolve these challenges.

Easy to navigate and written in a quick reference, straightforward style, this book is a ‘must-have’ for all therapeutic parents.”


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:

The target audience for this book are parents who are facing parenting challenges, especially those whose children have endured trauma. Sarah Naish is a foster/adoptive mom and writes as both a professional and an experienced therapeutic parent. This is one of those books that I so wish I had in my hands as we were beginning the foster care and adoption journey a decade ago. It would have been a game changer for our home in terms of understanding and responding to children in our home.

Sarah neatly divides the book into two parts for readers.

“Part 1: The Basics” covers the foundations and models of therapeutic parenting and explains why children who have experiences trauma behave the way they do. It covers responses and strategies to avoid, as well as compassion fatigue and the importance of caregivers caring for themselves along with ways to build in that self-care. Brimming with useful, pictorial analogies to help caregivers in their understanding, encouragement for the journey, and practical solutions, this section lays the groundwork for the second part of the book.

“Part 2: A-Z of Behaviours and Challenges with Solutions” contains an alphabetical listing of behaviors and challenges that parents face when parenting foster and adoptive children. When writing the book, Ms. Naish thought she would address about twenty-five topics, but after thinking about what questions she is frequently asked and consulting therapeutic parents about what topics they would like to see addressed, the count reached over sixty. Each topic entry begins with a definition of the behavior or challenge followed by what it looks like in a child, why it might happen, and strategies, often including preventative strategies and strategies for during and after the behavior. Some of the topics also include a “reality check,” which offers “some quick and helpful facts as an overview.” This section of the book provides a quick reference that can be used when needed most.

Overall, this book is an extremely useful resource for foster and adoptive parents. Sarah Naish’s series of therapeutic books for children would make a great companion to help children understand their own behavior and challenges and find empowerment to overcome obstacles.


Buy From Our Links and Support Transfiguring Adoption:


It’s Your Turn:

  1. What analogy did you find most helpful in understanding your child(ren)? (trauma lake, child driver)
  2. Which of the topics listed do you find most challenging?
  3. What new strategies will you implement in your parenting as a result of reading this book?

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