“Coming Home Day”. What an incredible moment for everybody involved. But you do need a seriously big supply of tissues. We were desperate to have our little one home; however, we were mindful this could be the last time we were all together. At least for a very long time. It is not always possible, or appropriate, to have direct contact with foster carers. Going forward it may just be letter updates and photos. All circumstances are different. Individual.
The goodbye was more emotional than we could ever have imagined. Understandably the foster carer was very upset. If I’m honest, it was really tough. I kept saying “should we give you more time?” “do you want another cuddle?” In that moment, I felt like we were breaking up a family rather than creating one. It was so hard to find the right words, but I’ll never forget the last thing my husband said to her as we walked away … “I promise I’ll make you proud”. And I knew deep down that he – we – would.
We drove away in tears, not quite sure how we would get over it. Couldn’t get our heads around how hard it had been. Despite the brave faces, there was genuine pain and this was hard to take in.
I was worried about the impact. The effects of separation. Unfortunately, I wasn’t wrong. After about a week of living in a wonderful blissful bubble altogether in our forever home, we were knocked sideways. The penny dropped that things were different. Where was that nice lady? Where had she gone? …she’s not coming back is she?
The eye contact stopped. Physically turning away when we walked in the room. There were no smiles or giggles. Some physical symptoms too. Our beautiful bundle of joy was suffering loss. Trying to process it in their own way. This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to deal with. I cried every night. Felt guilty that we were the cause of all this upset. That we’d taken them from her happy place. From the safety and security they were used to.
Generally, looked after children don’t go straight from unsafe or neglectful situations directly to adoptive parents. Foster carers have lovingly cared for them in between. Often for long periods of time. Of course this was going to be difficult. If I’m honest, very foolishly, we weren’t prepared for it. People used to say to us how “lucky” we were that they were so young and would have no memories. This was clearly not the case at all.
While you’re going through it, it’s hard to see that this is in fact an important part of the attachment process. We needed to fix it. Nobody else. Just us, as mummy and daddy. And we did. Slowly and steadily we built up trust. Let our little one grieve their loss. Attachments form in different ways. Take different periods of time. You must be patient and not push it. Showing loss is a good sign. It shows they have the ability to attach. But, it is really hard to watch.
After this difficult time had passed, things didn’t take long to settle. We were thrown headfirst in to being parents and all it brings. I was generally really nervous. Scared of doing the wrong thing. Making the wrong decision. But I think any new mum feels this way. We had the added angle of trying to stick to foster home routines. Not wanting to change anything for fear of upset and insecurity. This did make us pretty inflexible. But it is the right advice, Even if you feel that something different would work better for all of you. Don’t be hasty to change. It is hard to get the balance right.
I kept going back over all the copious notes I’d made in the meeting with the foster carer. We kept a detailed daily diary, probably for about 4 months. We recorded absolutely everything. All the basics like eating, sleeping and toileting, to moods and behaviours. If we were having a bad day, we’d look back to try and work out why. Reviewed the pages of good days and tried different things the next. It might sound a little “OTT”, but this totally worked for us. When the day finally came that I felt in control, the day that I decided I didn’t need the diary any more. This was a good day. I had finally gained the confidence that I could do this. I was becoming a mum. And it felt awesome.
Technically, this isn’t the end of our adoption journey – it will be with us forever. But it is the point in the road at which we became parents. I can’t express how amazing it still feels writing that word. Adoption made us a mummy and daddy. Yes, it was challenging. Yes, it was frustrating at times. But hand on heart and without any hesitation, it was the best thing we ever did.
I can’t find the words to express the deep love I have found. The sense of completeness I feel. I never really questioned if I would ever love them as “my own”. I wouldn’t have applied to adopt if I felt that way. You see, I can’t remember a time in my whole adult life when I didn’t dream of being a mum. I have always had a really strong maternal pull. That made it even more heartbreaking when I couldn’t become one. But to not become one at all, well, that was just not an option.
Of course, I have no real idea if the love I feel is the same as people feel for children they’ve had through birth. But I cannot imagine that it is any stronger than the love I feel for mine. I don’t think it’s humanly possible to love them any more than I do.
Thank you adoption for all you have done for me – for all of us. …”families come together in many ways, how truly splendid we all say”.