Fostered, adopted and parentless children are written into the heart body and spirit of 20th and 21st Century culture. They star in our books films and religions. Even Jesus had a step-father and Mohammed was parentless. In the face of the evidence have we willfully ignored the obvious – that children in care could be the superheroes in our midst – or have our cultural and political institutions dissuaded us from seeing the child in care as anything other than a problem to be dealt with properly? It’s got to be one or the other? Look at the front page of The British Association of Adoption and Fostering’s bookshop and decide for yourself.
I’ve heard said that the parentless child is a writer’s device to tell a story: the writer as child snatcher. But a child can spot a fraud as much as an adult can. From Homer to Charles Dickens and Charles Dickens to JK Rowling the parentless adopted or fostered character is portrayed as the adventurer who uses extraordinary skills to deal with extraordinary situations. They are the adventure. They are the story. They are superheroes.