Adoption has impacted this family dramatically. Without adoption we would be a family of two...living a very different life. It's National Adoption Week 2013...the time of year when adoption is in the public eye with the hope of encouraging more people to adopt.
So what would I say to someone who was thinking of adoption?
Firstly, it is the best thing we have ever done, and no matter what complications it brings, it will always be the best thing we have done. Our boys bring meaning to our lives, they have an amazing zest for life, and such joy for the simplest of things.
But if you are considering adoption, you should research carefully exactly what it means. My boys are my boys, I am the woman that they call Mummy, but they each have another mother, who has had and will continue to have an impact on their lives. They each have siblings that they don't live with, some of whom they see, and some of whom they don't. They each have another father, alongside M who they call Daddy. They have another family...and we have to work on their understanding of them.
Our boys have a background that we are not party too. No matter how much information that you are given, there is some things you will never know... In Sept this year I was given a form from biggy's school, with questions on including...were there any difficulties during labour? Is there a family history of...? Along with several other questions which were unanswerable. Because I am stroppy, I gave a lot of 'I don't know, he is adopted' answers. There was also the time I was virtually accused of drinking whilst pregnant by a nurse at hospital (and no he hasn't got FAS)...and I had to explain again. As an adoptive parent I have to fight for my boys and develop a thick skin.
My big boy moved to us at 2 years old. He has clear memories of living at his foster carers. He was not too young to remember, as so many people told us at the time (we never believed this). This separation caused him trauma, and he struggles with separation from us. This has lead to him attending school part time with no sign of him been ready for more. The trauma has given him other issues...he needs to know where people are, and what that different sound is...we can tell when he is really unsettled because even normal everyday sounds become 'what's that?' noises. He comes home from school exhausted because he has been on alert and well behaved for the time he is there. He comes home exhausted and we often have rages because he has stored up all the anxiety whilst he was at school. As adoptive parents we have to understand where the big feelings come from and help him deal with them.
Developmentally my big boy is behind his peers. He needs considerable more help with things than his peers. Some of this is because he is physically unable to complete some tasks, getting dressed involved more manual dexterity than he has got. Some things are emotional needs...he sees me feeding his little brother, and needs to be feed himself. He cannot go to sleep my himself, someone needs to be in his room. He cannot walk alongside you, he needs to have a hand or a pushchair to hold onto...he is impulsive and has been known to run into the road. As an adoptive parent, I need to have time to work on skills, and give him the time he needs.
It's not an easy path, but if at the end of the day, our boys are happy and reach their potential, whatever that potential is, we will be happy. If you are considering adoption, think carefully, and if you think you can offer a child a home, do it....there really is nothing more rewarding.