The aim of my blog used to be for me to communicate with the world around me, mainly about subjects that were taboo – infertility and then miscarriage. Since our road turned towards adoption it has allowed me to share the process with all its highs and lows from our initial application to the children coming home with our family and friends as well as anyone else who is interested. Today I use my blog to build memories for the children, I want them to be able to read it in years to come and understand what life was like for me, how I felt and the things that we did as well as why.
So, in short, the time lines to get from our initial appointment with a social worker from the local authority adoption team started in June 2011 when I called them and booked. From there we were accepted on a Preparation Course in January 2012 and then went straight into our home study assessment. Our approval as adopters came through in September and by this point we had already been linked to our children. The process of learning about them from appointments with their social worker, the paediatrician and the foster carers pus shifting through the mountains of paperwork took until December when we were approved as their adoptive parents. Due to Christmas (children in the care system are not moved placements so close to Christmas) we waited until early January to meet them and after introductions lasting 9 days they moved – we haven’t looked back since and time has flown past!
We have been surrounded by advice – social workers, parents of children both birth and adopted, family and friends all of which we have tried to listen to as we have meandered the path of learning how to meet our children’s needs and help them settle into life with us. I have to confess that some of it has been very useful and some of it we have ignored completely. Our children are children but their circumstances are not and we have to accept that and tailor out parenting accordingly: I confess, we don’t always get it right. We have had good days, great days and some truly terrible days but the good and the great are in the majority now, for which we are very grateful.
Today our children are settled in – they attend pre-school and love every second plus they have made some lovely friends, we go to toddler groups, swimming and our local children’s centre and I am getting used to be a mummy, it has taken some time and even now, over 6 months later it still sometimes feels like I am living in a dream. They are amazing children, full of life, full of love and with a sense of fun that means we are living life to the maximum and enjoying every single second. The hardest thing for me is being with the other mums: the ‘normal’ mums with their birth children as I feel different. There are things about my children that I will never know. I wasn’t there when they entered this world and I didn’t share their earliest years. I wasn’t there when they learned to walk, to hear their first words, see their first meals (solid or otherwise) and whilst this can make me sad at times I try to remind myself to savour every experience we have and to remind those around me to treasure theirs whether they be experiences with my children or their own.
But, it is being with other parents that I am reminded in the differences between parenting birth children and the parenting that we practise. Other parents and childcare professionals always assure me that the challenging behaviour we see is normal however most then agree that it is extreme and as soon as we feel relief at it settling down it starts back up again. We remain focused around consistency as well as the reminder that they are finding their boundaries as ours is a completely different world to that in which they lived before and this process could take a long time. For them to be completely settled and happy that this is their forever home will take years!
For anyone interested in adoption or fostering I would strongly recommend visiting http://www.adoptionuk.org/ as well as your local authority’s adoption and fostering teams and I would wish you every success in your journey.