“Like a light in the Dark”birth parents of adopted children

A blog by Joanne Alper, Editor of new book – Supporting Birth Parents Whose Children Have Been Adopted.

Sometimes when social problems are complex there can be a tendency to develop a silo approach. However people’s lives don’t fit into silos, as there are many interconnected and interrelated factors that create difficulties and these same factors also offer the solutions. It takes more thinking, more understanding and more time initially, but a longer term systemic approach to some of our current social issues is essential if we wish to make effective and lasting improvements to people’s lives.

Adoption is one of these areas that can absolutely benefit from this more long term, whole systems approach. Adoption today is about parenting children who have experienced abuse and trauma. There is much focus on the children and the adoptive parents, and rightly so. However there is one significant group missing from this picture and that is the birth parents of those same children. For decades the needs of this much neglected group have been ignored for a variety of reasons. However by doing so, we create more problems and cause more harm.

With the publication of this book we are seeking to start a national debate about the needs of birth parents, and the best and most effective ways to offer support. We want to highlight that by better supporting birth parents, we can not only help their adopted children, but can also benefit potential future children they may have.

Ultimately as a society surely we want to ensure that we minimise the number of children who suffer abuse and harm, and for those who have, would want to promote the development of their emotional health. Supporting birth parents can help contribute to this.

This book is a collection of chapters that shares information about research, birth parent services and therapeutic approaches that can be helpful. The messages from the book suggest that emphasis should be on the provision of relationship based, flexible, non-shaming, proactive, longer term therapeutic services.

John Simmonds OBE, Director of Policy, Research and Development CoramBAAF, describes the book as “sensitive, empathetic, realistic, hopeful and robust”.

We really want this book to be the start of conversations and debate about the development of improved and connected therapeutic support services for birth parents. When we understand their needs and how they interlink, we will be better placed to identify effective solutions. Additionally, if birth parents are willing to accept support and want to change how they feel and the direction their life is taking, we would argue that we have responsibility to do what we can to assist them. Benefiting them, their children and ultimately, their children’s children.


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One thought

  1. I disagree that adoptions today are about parenting children who have been abused and or have suffered trauma. I became pregnant as a result of a rape at 16 by a man I knew but he wasn’t my boyfriend .
    Was shamed Blamed and encouraged to pray for my supposedly sin of having sex outside of married . I was deemed an unfit mother simply because I was unwed as was our title back then.
    Sent to unwed Mothers home run by Catholic nuns were I was abused both emotionally and spiritually and my beloved baby daughters was abducted from me at birth on my 17th birthday in 1974 and illegally adopted . Note I’m not catholic myself. This is how society treated girls and women like me . I had no advocate . All my pleas to see my baby denied .
    I was so grief stricken that I attempted suicide in about 1976. Adoption in my opinion wasn’t back then or now never the answer. I was simply treated like nothing more then incubator and once my usefulness was over ( given birth ) I like thousands of others where simply abandoned yet again .
    I’m not saying that sometimes children don’t need to be cared for by other people other then there own natural / parent or parents but a form of legal guardianship is more honest kind and in the best interest of the child not adoption which really steals there identities and turns them often against the very person who gave them life and like me and many thousands of other Mothers like me We continue to suffer unbearable grief for our lost children for the rest of our lives .
    I was simply told to get on with my life and forget it . I tried doing that for years and it nearly ended my life .
    The anti abortion campaigners will say you did the right thing by carrying your pregnant full term and giving birth however they are pro birth not pro life as many still don’t support single Mothers to this day and many encourage adoption without any thought empathy or compassion to
    Mothers like myself .
    I choose life and was made an outcast of society and treated as if I was a criminal not the loving Mother I was and still am.

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