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Danielle’s Journey

As a UK adoptee, I grew up in a loving family ever since I arrived at my family at 3.5 years old and was adopted later on at eight years old.

I first left my birth parents care when I was two months old and roughly when I was four months I stayed with my paternal grandparents for a short amount of time. Shortly after I was put into foster care for 1 ½ weeks before returning to my birth mother to a mother and baby unit where we stayed for 2 months but unfortunately the placement broke down and I was removed with police assistance and was put into foster care again in the same placement as where my older sister was and remained here for 3 years.

Whilst in foster care the foster carer had very inappropriate ways of disciplining us, for example I remember very vividly she used to lock me up in a dark room for long periods of time on a continuous basis and also leaving me for long periods at a time in a pram. Basically, this was a way to ignore me. Whilst in foster care I was also fed very little, on occasions I was given a proper meal.

Some vivid memories I have from being in foster care is that I was treated differently compared to my sister and that the foster carer was not interested in me. Also, I remember being pushed constantly by my sister and always being on my own and the foster carer spending so much time and attention on my older sister. I also remember tons of veracious shouting going on and objects and toys being thrown at me. Last of all, I remember my sister stealing my toys and I having to hide them and keep them with me otherwise she would ruin them.

Quite often when I was in nursery I would cry for no apparent reason and one can interpret as this as me missing my birth family and feeling abandoned and expressing the only way I knew how as I had very few words and these were often not clear.

I do remember my adoption day back in August 2004 and being frightened . I spoke very few words when I arrived at my family due to me having severe speech and language delay . However, I was delayed in many aspects of development due to malnourishment, neglect at the age of three. At 3 ½ years-old, I had no energy to walk on my own and always wanted to be carried as I used to fall asleep while walking. Through being with my new family I learnt the Italian language rather quickly much to the surprise of my parents.

I was also delayed in school. The impact of malnourishment, abandonment, and neglect remained with me through the years. I was constantly reminded of it when I struggled at school and in following general conversations due to a speech and language delay. Through the support of my parents who cared to help me along the way, I was able to learn how to manage and cope with these struggles.

The challenges that I faced at school were not directly to do with the fact I was adopted but arising from being in care. As a consequence at the age of 3 ½ years old I was not speaking. At 4½ I was starting and in an adequate way by 6 years old. But still many years down the line I was still behind on my language skills. My lack of language skills put me in a very anxious position compared to my peers. This was quite a big problem in terms of communication and socializing which became more significate around the age of 11. Without language skills it is more difficult forming friendships.

Throughout my early childhood people often thought I had problems with my hearing but several hearing tests were conducted and my hearing was normal. much later on I went on to do the Tomatis method which is an ear training therapy as I was diagnosed with a weak middle ear muscle in January 2007. The muscle weakness was caused by trauma experienced at a very early age and basically the ear closed down as it were to shut out the outside world and this had a strong impact on my verbal skills.

As I got older and was around the age of 14 I started to think more about my adoption and my birth family and I thought about them on a regular basis. The older I got I struggled with self esteem as I saw myself as there was something wrong with me and I felt unwelcomed by those around me in school and I felt I did not fit in as I was different. This made things difficult for me because then I lacked confidence and felt ashamed and felt being adopted was a bad thing, this made things even harder.

In terms of rejection I found my adoptive placement as a rejection from my birth mother and that she didn’t want me anymore even though prior to this I had been in foster care and I’d spent most of my life away from her.

Also, the older I got I struggled with identity because this meant I didn’t know who I was anymore. I had nothing left which connected me to my biological family . I felt I didn’t belong anywhere and was always floating around never feeling comfortable and that I didn’t fit in and was in the wrong place.

Growing up, I never told anyone I was adopted as I wanted to keep it a secret and all my feelings, thoughts and emotions on being separated from my biological mother and being adopted I kept to myself as I had no one to convey this to and also a lot of the time back then I didn’t know what I was feeling and it’s only something I’ve been able to do once
I reached around the age of 21.

In 2014/2015 when I reached the age of 18 I went on the rollercoaster of a journey of meeting my birth family which included my birth mother, my 2 maternal aunts, my maternal grandmother, my cousins, my birth father and his family which included my paternal grandmother and uncle and my 3 younger sisters. I wouldn’t say this journey went well due to many factors. Some of the factors was I didn’t know my story and why I was put into foster care and later on adopted, I wasn’t prepared, I was not given the freedom as my adoptive parents were in charge and in contact with social services and deciding what should happen due to their concerns around safety and last of my birth family dealing with their own troubles and not ready me being around them. I stopped contact with my birth mother in Spring 2015 and my birth father Autumn 2015. However of a bad experience it’s a decision that I’ve not regretted at all in fact I’m thankful I had that opportunity because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t searched.

In June 2019 after a nearly 5 year wait I was finally given my records and it was helpful as I was able to understand life events and the mysteries. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing social worker who went through my files with me and the opportunity to express my feelings and thoughts with her on 5 occasions.

After I received my records I reconnected with my birth mother in November 2019 and since then we have been in regular contact virtually due to the pandemic but since January 2021 I have increased my contact and have been doing video calls twice a week when before it was just messages. I had to take this slowly and do things in my own time depending what I was ready with. Since being in contact with my birth mother I have started to feel happy when before I wasn’t but more so when having the video calls. There is still way to go but I’m just taking very small steps at a time and seeing where it leads me.

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