The Closure of BAAF

The closure of BAAF was of course, as for plenty of adopters, a huge shock to me. The organisation, which many saw as the cornerstone of British adoption, gone just like that over night. What’s not shocking about that? However did I feel personally affected by this loss? No.

When Mr H and I first looked into adoption, some ten years ago now, much of the relevant literature and online information about adoption was published by, or provided by BAAF. It was difficult to find books, leaflets or training, which they hadn’t published or hosted. They really were the big guns.

As we threw ourselves into our family and became absorbed by the day to day, I forgot to search for more to read and more information to take on board. I knew few people who had adopted, so occasionally accessed The Adoption UK chat forums but, really, I relied a lot on instinct and the occasional bit of input from my Local Authority (LA).

That is until things became really, really tough. By this time we’d moved house and our LA was different and also fairly incompetent. All requests for support were met with a fair bit of indifference, a lack of understanding and little belief in what we were reporting.

This is the point at which I joined twitter as an adoptive parent. I lifted my head above the parapet of our everyday life, to seek others with whom I could relate, and I found them. There amongst the scrolling screen of my smart phone were other people experiencing my life. Not only did they tweet about it, they wrote about it in their blogs. Suddenly there was so much more to take in, again, reading about the lives of other adopters made me feel so much less alone. These people were supportive and friendly, sharing their experiences and recommending sources of information. Here I discovered Dan Hughes, wow what a revelation that was.

So what does this have to do with the closure of BAAF?

Well, as many of you will know, from these tiny social media seeds grew The Adoption Social, a free website, offering up the experiences and thoughts of others involved in adoption. An organisation that aimed to promote and support the online adoption community, a community you can be part of for free.

Whilst running The Adoption Social, we’ve had very little to do with BAAF, despite often trying to engage with them through social media. I must add here that on the odd occasion I’ve met staff from BAAF, at conferences and training, they have all been very friendly and interested. However online, they refused, for a long time, to even acknowledge our existence. This is not me showing bitterness or regret, it’s just a fact. Whilst organisations like Adoption UK, Coram and TACT, to name a few, were supportive and interested. BAAF never really were.

I’m not suggesting that we were ever in the same league as this mighty organisation; however, it somehow seemed a very antiquated approach, amidst this very friendly and supportive community, they seemed, to me, to maintain their seniority. I have been known to refer to them as the “dinosaurs” of the adoption world, which now I feel a little unkind about. However no matter all the incredible work they did, it seems a shame that they seemed unable to move with the times and engage in this new format, which many of those involved in adoption were embracing.

I’m sure there is much, much more involved with the closure of BAAF than a lack of social media savvy, and I can’t help feel that the government are playing a big part in the drama which is gradually unfolding. Whilst I don’t feel personally affected by the loss of BAAF, I do feel truly saddened that such an institution of adoption has been found to be so removed from what is currently needed in the adoption sector, and therefore unsalvageable. I think it casts a very dark shadow over adoption, and whilst questionable decisions are being made, and other queries remain unanswered, a sense of instability exists over British adoption.

 

Raving or Behaving at Forty Plus

Hac

The child like faces streamed past me and I wondered “what the hell am I doing”. I should have known better, I shouldn’t be here, my head raced and then, to make matters worse, the bouncer told the young girls in front “have your ID’s ready”.

I was nervous, this was something I did every weekend in my twenties, go to a club, dance all night and feel amazing doing it.

What if I couldn’t dance the night away any more?

What if I found it all too stressful and couldn’t enjoy myself?

What if I felt so very old that those young faces made me believe I should be home in bed with my cocoa at eleven o’clock?

We joked with the bouncer,

“Will you ask us for ID too?”

“If you want me to” he replied with a cheeky smile.

And there is the first of the many things that have changed. Now I am a forty something clubber, the bouncers are more friendly. They no longer seemed scary, more an older face in the crowd I could share a joke or frivolous comment with. Oh my goodness the bouncers are younger than me.

So here I am on a Saturday night out with the best of all friends, someone I shared many a long and exciting club night with in my twenties, clubbing again in our forties. My beautiful friend had bought tickets for, what was billed as a revival night, for our favourite club from our youth, as a birthday present for me.

I took a deep breath and entered the club (after a sniffer dog had declared us clean of anything untoward, another new one on me), the intense base beat of the dance music hit me like a wave of nostalgia and my anxieties were suddenly  disintegrated and now there was excited anticipation.

My friend and I dithered slightly about where would be the best place to dance, but after trying a couple of spots, we set ourselves up on the balcony overlooking the DJ. Difference number two, the DJ was in a small booth somewhere undistinguishable in my day, now they are centre stage, the star attraction. To confirm this shift in the world of clubbing, a young man later questioned,

“Who have you come to see?”

See? I never came out to SEE a DJ, I came to hear them.

My friend and I had booked a hotel room for the night so we didn’t have to travel back to our suburban/rural lives after our night out. We shunned the need to dress to impress and be seen in a trendy bar before our night out. Instead we stocked up on gins in a tin, vodka and energy drinks which we sipped whilst lazily transforming ourselves from older ladies to attractive club land ladies.  I asked many slightly silly questions beforehand.

“How much money should we take?”

“Should I take a bag?”

“What about a coat?”

Back in the day, I’d have known what I wanted to do and not worried about what the person next to me was doing.

My friend had done this before quite recently, so calmly reassured me at every step, my goodness it was as if I was about embark on death deifying feat.

So once in the club, the music hit me and I just started dancing, immediately I lost all fear and absorbed every beat with confidence. The moves were still there,” I’m still good at this” I beamed (who knows I might have looked like I was having a fit but it felt good).

So we danced the night away and returned to our hotel room in the early hours. However there are still a couple of things that made it different as a forty something to being a nubile teenager.

  1. I took plasters with me, just in case my feet blistered and I used them, hello, mummy alert.
  2. I drank so much water I had to go to the toilet a lot. I made sure I went in plenty of time because a queue more than six deep might be a problem.
  3. On one of my toilet trips, the girl in the next cubical seemed in trouble. She was obviously splayed on the floor, as her hair tumbled from beneath the divide, into my cubical. I knocked and asked “are you ok?” My nurturing nature in full force. I asked “Do you have water?” She mumbled and I passed my full bottle of water through. She seemed grateful and asked if she could see my face. I kindly declined the offer to put my face on the toilet floor and offered her a waving hand instead. I then informed the toilet attendant about her predicament, a sensible mum in full force.
  4. I tried at one point to take a selfie picture of my friend and I enjoying ourselves. After six failed attempts I gave up. I’m sure I heard the youngster around us sniggering.
  5. The music wasn’t all good and my friend and I discussed writing disgruntled emails referring to the trade descriptions act.
  6. Once back in our hotel room we both removed all make up and showered before bed.

So there you have it, my big fun night out, a big bit of #takingcare. I’m going to link this post to #memorybox because it was so much fun and for me offered a night of complete rejuvenation that I will never forget. I will not be waiting another twenty years before I do that again.