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?
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 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.