“You were chosen, other people had to take what they got…!” and other positive affirmations are at the heart of Bravely Being Me, an inspiring new anthology featuring famous faces who were adopted, including Lorraine Pascale, Jackie Kay and Joy Carter.
Bravely Being Me: Brilliant Stories of Adopted People, launched by Adoption UK, is a beautifully illustrated book for adopted 7-10 children and features a diverse mix of celebrities. Three of the contributors featured in the book caught our eye.
Chef and presenter Lorraine Pascale’s birth parents were from the Caribbean, but she was born in a hospital for young women who were not married or needed extra support. At 18 months she was adopted by a white couple from the Cotswolds. At just 16, Lorraine was discovered by a modelling scout and went on to have a wonderful modelling career. She was the first Black model to appear on the cover of American Elle magazine. Today she is a mother and has a wonderful career as a chef and is the author of several cookery books. She has sold more than one million books in the UK alone.
Lorraine’s story shows that with love and support, you can become anything you want in life. As she says in her own words: “Don’t judge a person by what you see on the outside.”
Jackie Kay is a popular poet and author who was adopted as a baby. Today she is a Chancellor of the University of Salford and has been awarded both an MBE and a CBE.
She wrote about her search for her adoptive parents in her book Red Dust Road, with her birth mum who she clearly has a wonderful relationship. In Bravely Being Me, she writes: “If somebody had offered me the choice, I would have chosen to be adopted by my adoptive parents: I would have picked them out of an orchard of trees and made them part of my family tree. … My mum used to say: ‘You were chosen. Other people had to take what they got, but I picked you!’”
Joy Carter is a successful musical comedian. She was adopted as a baby to white English missionaries and grew up in Lincolnshire. Joy was bullied at school but found solace in performing arts, eventually breaking into comedy in which she has a made a career for the last 20 years.
In keeping with the theme that you can be anything you want; Joy says of her adoptive experience: “I learned how to change my life scars into beautiful badges of honour! I can’t change my past, but I can embrace my journey, find my voice and be proud of who I am, who I was and now who I am becoming.”
Bravely Being Me was launched during National Adoption Week (18 – 23 October) and the experiences of its contributors shows the importance of providing guaranteed long-term support for families who adopt to help them thrive.
Sadly, at any one time too many children are waiting to be matched with a family – 2,100 children in England and 2,160 approved adopters are waiting to be matched with a child.
For those that manage to be matched, it’s not always a happy ending. Adoption UK says:
“Adopted children are among the most complex and vulnerable in society, with three-quarters having suffered serious neglect or abuse in their early lives, with lasting impact on relationships, health, and learning. These children can require intensive therapy and long-term support to help them thrive.”
The charity is also calling on the Government to make a ten-year commitment to the Adoption Support Fund (ASF), which provides adoptive families in England with therapeutic support. A third of parents told Adoption UK support accessed through the ASF had helped them avoid a family breakdown.
Adoption UK: “These children need the right adopters to provide them with forever homes.”
The charity is calling for thorough assessments for every adopted child before they move to their new families, leading to a detailed support plan that considers future as well as current needs, and a duty for adoption agencies to deliver the agreed support.
So, while the famous faces featured in Bravely Being Me made it against the odds, much still needs to be done to ensure that every adopted child, and the families that they are matched with get the right support to be able to thrive and be who they were truly meant to be.
Order a copy of Bravely Being Me: Brilliant Stories of Adopted People: edited by Sam Langley-Swain and illustrations by Nicci Martin, here.