In November of last year I asked Big Bear if he would mind writing his thoughts on adoption down for me. He knew about my blog and was very excited about the idea of his words being published on the web. This was the result: Adoption by Big Bear
At the time he was 7. I have been wondering, now that another year has passed and he is a year older and we are that bit further into the adoption, how his views have changed. He was excited at the prospect of being famous (!) again so we agreed to try an interview this time. Here it is:
Me: What do you think adoption means?
Big Bear: Adoption’s like when um, when a family, a normal family, have loads of children who they can’t handle. They’re like naughty and stuff and they can’t handle them so they go to live with foster parents who try to look after them for a period of time so then, erm, so some very kind people who want to adopt the children, they go to visit the foster parents and have a little talk with them, like how well behaved the child is and gossip like that. Then they start having little time with the child, you know like to settle them in? They have a little journey to the adopter’s house then they, erm, they like settle down, look at their bedroom and see what toys they’ve got and then they think ‘I like it here, it’s not bad’. When that happens, it’s really like very kind to the foster family and the other family.
Me: Ok. Do you think there are any good things about adoption?
Big Bear: Yeah. Adoptions like thinking you’ll have a family forever and you’re not gonna move. It’s like staying in the same place.
Me: Do you think there are any bad things about adoption?
Big Bear: Well yes I do because the children that have been adopted will probably miss their foster parents and just say that they want to go and see their foster parents.
Me: If there are any people reading my blog, like another child who might be getting an adopted sibling, do you have any advice for them?
Big Bear: I’ve got a lot of advice. So just if you don’t wanna see them to start with you can just stay in your room for a bit but like then you need to start playing with them and they’ll start liking you more and they’ll just think you are a superhero to them. They’ll think you’re amazing if you start playing with them. You don’t really have to let them do anything with your stuff. You don’t have to let them in your room. You just have to make them happy. If you don’t want to play with them sometimes it’s absolutely fine but you’ve got to play with them sometimes because you might actually think it’s fun.
Me: So now you’ve had an adopted brother for 2 years, how are you finding that?
Big Bear: I’m finding it fine. But when we started having him it was a nightmare but now I think he’s quite good. I play with him a lot and it’s quite amazing really because his behaviour has come on a lot. He used to be a nightmare when he came but now he’s good as gold. Like really, just get playing with them and they’ll get better.
Me: So are you having fun with him now?
Big Bear: Yeah I have a lot of fun. They start doing sports that you like and yeah, you have a lot of fun.
Me: Does it make any difference that he is adopted?
Big Bear: No. It’s not an excuse for anything. No, he’s just a normal person.
Me: Is there anything I have missed? Is there anything else you would like to tell people?
Big Bear: Really, if you want to adopt somebody, you need to be kind people. If you are not kind people, don’t bother. Just settle them in.
Me: Do you have any advice for helping children settle better?
Big Bear: Yeah. Just get them stuff they can squeeze or punch. It calms them down. They can always like bring them into class if they’re struggling at school because it could just calm them down. It helps them a lot. Like a squeezy thing or a fidget spinner.
Grizzly (not wanting to be left out): How do you think it feels for a child to come to a new family?
Big Bear: Well, um, I think it’s pretty scary at the start. They have to get used to the house. When they’ve got used to their environment they’ll get used to their parents and when they’ve got used to them they’ll get used to their brothers or sisters and then they’ll get used to their friends and then to their school. Then they’ll get used to sports and doing spelling.
Bless him! This is the edited version as Big Bear was in his element and chatted for a good ten minutes. My initial thought is that I probably need to do more work with him about why children end up in Care in the first place! I certainly haven’t told him it is because they are naughty. It is a little scary how I can hear some of my own words coming out of his mouth though – like ‘just try playing with him you might actually think it’s fun’.
Overall I think it does reflect his chatty, thoughtful nature and the relationship he has with his brother. He is certainly less in denial about liking him now which I’m pleased about. I’m glad he can be honest though, we have worked hard at making sure his views are listened to and ensuring that he is comfortable to say how he really feels, whether positive or negative.
I have been really mindful this year that I would love to let Little Bear have a voice on my blog too. It is trickier with him because it is hard to make sure that he fully understands what I’m asking of him and what I’m going to do with the information. I explained that I write about adoption and that I’d like to interview him too. He was up for it and co-operated for a short time. Here are his thoughts:
Me: What do you think being adopted means?
Little Bear: You live in a different house and you come here.
Everybody in my class is adopted but not in Big Bears class.
It’s really nice.
Me: Being adopted is nice?
Little Bear: Yeah
Me: Why is it nice?
Little Bear: Because I just like it.
Me: Do you think there are any good things about being adopted?
Little Bear: Being good and being protected.
Me: Do you think there are any bad things?
Little Bear: No. (Gets distracted thinking up all the bad things he can like getting shot or murdered. I felt he’d had enough of my questions).
I have to say I was pretty surprised by what Little Bear had to say. I’m amazed he said “being good and being protected”. It is typical of him though to be a man of few words, but to hit the nail squarely on the head. It was also one of those brief glimpses into his complex internal world: there is so much going on in there.
I was most surprised that he was so unswervingly positive about it. I genuinely thought he would have talked about missing his foster carers and perhaps he would on a different day. I’m not naïve enough to think he will always be this positive as there is still so much Life Story work to come but for now, what he has said has been lovely to hear.
The point he makes about everyone in his class being adopted is because he knows that there are 4 others in his class who are and that nobody in Big Bear’s class is adopted. This came about because recently he started listing people we know to find out if ‘they came out of their Mum’s tummies or not?’
Hopefully, if both Bears are ok with it, we’ll have a similar chat in a year’s time and see how things have changed.
As always, I’m extremely proud of them both and grateful that they humoured their Mum and answered my questions.