An Age of Reflection

I’m not one to dwell on the past. Fortunate I can seemingly move on with little effect. But as I get older, I’ve become more reflective. My mind drifts far more to the “what ifs” and the “whys”. Recent challenging events are certainly driving this thought process. I find myself having to pull back from the edge of the “why me” cliff.

There’s no denying it. Ten years of trying to become a mum was always going to take its toll. Ten years of heartache and pain – physical and emotional. Infertility sucks. End of.

Now, of course if you ask me if I’m happy now, the answer is unequivocally yes. More than I can find the words to say. I have all I ever wanted. The most beautiful children. Breath-taking unconditional love I never knew possible. My life is full.

But there are two main things that are driving my current reflective mindset.

Firstly…the menopause.

I am at the age where all this joy is just beginning. And it is far from pretty! For some women this may simply be an acknowledgement they are getting older. May even look forward to the other side of it. For me, it’s a stark reminder my body let me down in so many ways. That what I was put on this earth to do, I could not fulfil. Tick the fail box.

I never think about getting pregnant. Not for what feels like an eternity. I quickly went from monitoring every single second of my monthly cycle. To not even remembering when my last period was. The penny dropped years ago that I wanted a family not a pregnancy. I accepted the rocky road we’d been on and made peace with the world. However sad, it just wasn’t meant to be.

I honestly haven’t spent the last eight years since my daughter came home, hoping – craving – that I’d get pregnant. Quite the opposite. I thought it wouldn’t be right – fair perhaps – if we had a biological child after our choice to adopt. Writing that sounds very short sighted now. In days when there are far more varied family make ups. But at the time that’s how I felt.

Like many, I had my fair share of comments winging their way. You know, the ones that go something like “you know you’ll get pregnant now you’ve adopted as you’ll be so much more relaxed.” Not helpful. Intentions may be genuine, but the sentiment is not. I didn’t need, or want, to think like that. I didn’t need a pregnancy to be a mum. I was one. And a very real one. I have the most beautiful little human beings on the planet. Biology could never – not ever – replace my children. They are the best of the best.

If I’m honest, deep down I know the route of my unease. Nature is playing its part. Again.

The possibility of becoming pregnant, however remote, is being taken out of my hands. My body is speaking for me. It’s like I’ve lost my voice. My choices have gone. Again. I couldn’t get pregnant – and now I never will. Not ever. It’s just so final.

This is a hard pill to swallow. It is giving me an uneasy relationship with my body. And it’s proving to be an unhealthy one.

The second thing playing on my mind, is the unfairness our children experienced such loss at such a young age. That they have so much to deal with. Accept.

I don’t ever want different children. But I do wish I had given birth to my children. To have experienced it for me. But more for them.

However accepting I am of adoption. Our journey. However proud I am that our family was brought together in this way. It was our choice. Not theirs. They didn’t chose to experience the sense of rejection they may grapple with. The mix of emotions that comes with understanding their life story. The struggles they go through as the impact of their early trauma firmly takes hold.

I want to take away this pain. Their uncertainties. Nobody can underestimate the impacts adoption has on a child. They may be the happiest, smiliest, most content child. May appear to have the tightest of family units. Be enveloped with love, safety, and security. Just like our life together. But it will always be there for them. Entwining itself in our daily lives. And seeing this as a parent – as their mum – breaks my heart.

I am reflecting on it more and more as the years go by. As I, and they, get older. As their understanding, and curiosity, unfolds. I have found a new desire to research and understand their thought processes. Want to provide them with all the tools and support they need to make sense of the world. And this is a good feeling. Becoming more equipped with how to approach these challenges can only be a good thing. I am embracing the change in my approach. Welcoming insightful posts from adult adoptees, other adoptive parents, and the likes of Adoption UK. Reading books like “The Primal Wound – Understanding the Adopted Child” and “The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting – Strategies and Solutions”.* A case of knowledge is power. And with age comes wisdom…right??

I do wish I’d done it sooner though. I’m a bit of a late comer to this expertise. The truth is, I fell into the “they were so young” trap. That because they were with foster carers from birth they wouldn’t suffer the impacts of neglect in the same way. This now seems very short sighted.

Don’t get me wrong. They are happy and content. Funny and cheeky. Kind and thoughtful. Sociable and engaging. Endearing and captivating. Most days merrily go by without challenge. On the surface you probably wouldn’t even suspect what happens behind the scenes. The “you’re going to send me to another family” hysterics when they have done something they shouldn’t. The “you don’t want me to be in this family anymore I’ll be taken to a different one again”, when we say no to something. Total heart stopping moments.

The more I read, the more I learn. The more I understand, the more I can help them. Deal with these outbursts. It is hard to process. And it is so very sad. But there is no question, I’m in this for the long haul with hugs aplenty. Will hold their hand every step of the way.

I’m working hard to shift the sense of guilt that tries to rear it’s ugly head. A responsibility for something I am not responsible for. A life before us. I try not to read into their actions. Their emotions. Their struggles. These could all be just because. I know that any child could suffer in this way. But in my heart – and my head – I know it’s more. It’s driving my desire to explore the science behind adoption.

Having said all this, I am also fully aware of the impact perimenopause is having on me. To say my hormones are in turmoil is an understatement! I am emotional. Tearful. Indecisive. Irrational. The list is endless.

But it’s time to pull my socks up. To take charge of the next chapters in our lives. Reflect, but focus on the positives. Amongst the mix of emotions age is throwing at me, I need to be there for them. To support their emotions. For us all, I need to be the best version of myself I can be. Forever. And always.

*for information only, no affiliation to Amazon