Chief Executive Anthony Douglas CBE shares his moving adoption story and why he is putting something back.
I was adopted as a baby, as my mother’s choice was lose me or lose her place in her Northumberland family and village. She came to London to give birth to me as soon as her pregnancy became visible, so that nobody locally would know. When I met her 27 years later, she reassured me that I was not a one night stand – I was a 3 night stand, and that in those days, this was well into a loving relationship.
My adoptive parents could not have children themselves and they were advised by a church welfare worker not to tell me, as it would be easiest if he “grows up thinking you’re his mum and dad”. When I found out I was adopted, aged 8, it was for me a major breach of trust. That still affects me over 50 years later. It is true that childhood stays with us all of our lives, and an adoptive childhood has that extra edge about it. Whilst a presumption of mistrust is a negative consequence for me, the most positive consequence is that I had more educational and life opportunities than I would have had with my birth mother, from her description of how her life went in what were my early years. I experienced adoption as complex and at times disturbing, and that is the reason I wanted to spend my professional life in helping vulnerable children. I wanted to put something back – into myself and for others, that’s why I work for Cafcass, www.cafcass.gov.uk.
Adoption today is so much more real. There is a presumption of transparency and legislation that emphasises the need all concerned in an adoption have for support – sometimes for many years. The one change I would like to see is adoption support being properly and consistently funded throughout the country. My advice back to myself – as the adult me back to the child still in me, is, it will be ok, and trust just that little bit more.