Adoptee Tigerlily shares her experience of adoption

Adoption Bucks, 18 October 2023 - Case studies , Events

We spoke to Tigerlily about her experience as a black adoptee...

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Within the UK, Black children are over-represented in our care system, with national statistics reporting that Black children also wait longer to find their adoptive families. Tigerlily speaks about her experience of adoption and shares her thoughts on how we can better support and care for young black children.

Tigerlily's story

I was fostered from birth - my foster parents were from Jamaica and loved me to bits and I'm still in contact with them today. At 13 months, I was adopted by a mixed-race couple - I have a black mother and a white father. I’ve had an amazing experience, and I think it's important to say that not everyone is so fortunate.

Adopted children will have trauma from conception, before birth, that will follow them through their lives. For me, I have a horrible time dealing with change – changing houses, schools, or routines. It takes me off the rails.

Adopted children require more love and care than the average child. I know that sounds biased and unfair, but it's because we were rejected and left on our own. My story seems easy, but many children have to go through different foster carers, back and forth with family… There will always be trauma from that.

I think it is important that children have a connection to their heritage. The black community has already had so much history and heritage ripped from its hands. We’re only just learning who we are, to be in touch with our ancestors, our countries and ourselves.

It’s better to be adopted by a family from the same culture as yourself. However, I have seen adopters who are not from the same culture get it right. Adopters can empathise and give children access to their own culture. It definitely takes a village – black friends, black adults who can be role models. It’s important for children to have these figures so they can realise what is possible. I grew up looking up to my mum because she looked like me, even though she wasn’t blood.

We, as adopted children, need to feel included. If we feel left out or rejected, even outside the house, we can spiral. For me, I will push everyone out of my life. I feel I have got to do it on my own, no one is going to support me. Growing up, we need support with our friendships and our first relationships.

At times, Mum was so sure I would leave, but that wasn’t the truth of how I felt. I love her and would never do that to her, but I would push her away because I thought she was going to leave. For years, I did that and only now, have we had these conversations and got closer. She’s shown she will catch me.

No matter how much an adopted child pushes you away, be there for them and listen. These are just outward behaviours - their way of taking back control of feelings of abandonment. You need to be there to catch them, no matter how much it hurts.

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