When a film like Lion catches the attention of millions, it puts us one step closer to adoption being better understood.
The story of Saroo, an Indian boy who falls asleep on a train, finds himself thousands of miles from home and adopted by an Australian family, is rather more dramatic than the adoption stories we see in the UK. But the emotions and challenges are familiar.
Nicole Kidman, who plays Sue, Saroo’s adoptive mother, spoke honestly and passionately about the film. An adoptive mother herself, she was asked by the New York Times about what had resonated with her. Her response?
“Because you don’t often find out how adoptive mothers feel about the birth mother – the love is there from the minute you hold your child, the love is there for the birth mother; you’re always connected.”
This is a rare, powerful statement that recognises the importance of the relationship between the birth family and the adoptive family. The outdated perception is that adopted children lose contact with their birth parents as soon as they become part of their ‘new’ family.
When we launched 25 years ago, we made the decision to support everyone involved in adoption. We see first-hand the profound effect of removing a child from a parents’ care and so we help birth mothers to understand their feelings and plan their future, through both our BirthTies and Breaking the Cycle services.
We know that where it is possible, adoptive families and birth parents being in touch can make a hugely positive difference to the child. This can be as little as an exchange of Christmas or birthday cards, to as much as face-to-face meetings, depending on circumstances.
“I’ve learned things I never even knew about myself and I can put into perspective now where I failed and where I didn’t.”
We support birth parents and families to provide information that adopted children need, about birth and early life, the birth family’s views about adoption and up-to-date information about themselves and their situation. This information is then used to produce a life story book for the adopted child.
We also have a long history of helping birth parents, relatives, children and adoptive parents stay in touch by letter, via our Letterbox contact service.
This, along with therapeutic contact, enables the adopted child to answer difficult questions. It was these missing links that made Saroo feel isolated and frustrated in Lion. He didn’t want to find his birth family because he was unhappy with his adoptive family. He simply wanted to understand his roots and let his birth family know he was okay. Our ReUnite service can help children who’ve not been able to stay in touch, to try and find their birth families.
The birth and adoptive families are always connected and shouldn’t be seen a threat to one another. Understanding this can help us to better support adopted children for life.