Don’t worry about how you are currently feeling – things do get better. The feeling of anticipation leading up to meeting our three wonderful adoptive children was immense – so it’s no wonder that there is a down side too.
When we agreed to adopt three siblings it seemed the most natural thing to do as we were both one of three children and there was a shortage of adopters willing to take a group of three or more.
The reality was almost too much and at times I felt that I had fallen off a cliff! From the first moment I struggled to bond with the children – thankfully they didn’t seem to notice as Daddy over compensated.
The first week of introductions wasn’t too bad as we went home alone each night however reality struck the day they came home full time. Suddenly I was responsible for three ‘aliens’ who invaded my tidy clean home and turned my whole life upside down.
Yes, I’d been to all the training and listened to the Mums at work saying that having children was life changing but I thought I was prepared.
The first eight weeks passed in a blur of inspections from a variety of social workers, working out food and sleep routines, figuring out which sibling owned which toy and coping with exhausted sleep. Looking back, I can laugh at myself for worrying so much although at the time I felt such a failure because it wasn’t how I had imagined it to be.
My lovely husband didn’t seem to have any problems adjusting and, very quickly, was telling the children he loved them and accepting the devastation being unleased upon our lives. I didn’t get it – how he could so quickly fall in love with these strangers and their different needs and history. However, I also didn’t like other people giving support or advising me, so I deliberately cut off contact and tried to cope alone.
September came around quickly and the children (finally) went to school. I may have been the only Mum of a reception age child who was happy to see their child go to school on their first day!
The darkest point came one morning when I stood crying in the shower because I didn’t want another day of caring for children I couldn’t feel love for. So I went to the doctor and asked for anti-depressants and then spoke to our lovely social worker. I called my feelings ‘post adoption depression’ because it felt similar to what birth mums call post-natal depression. That was my turning point and finally about six months after the children came home I started to tell them I loved them. Our social worker said she knew I’d turned the corner when she heard me wanting to ‘tell a teacher off’ for being inconsiderate towards our youngest daughter.
There have been other challenges since then, however once I sorted myself nothing was impossible. Those challenges included having to explain why I didn’t have baby pictures of my children, why I didn’t know their clothes and shoe size, why I didn’t know who owned which toy or why I didn’t know what happened to them when they were aged under four! It’s amazing how many people find it hard to understand that somethings you just don’t know and that’s why I found it better to be honest about them being adopted and what I didn’t know rather than feeling awkward and trying to cover it up.
So my top tips are:
- Be honest.
- Ask for and accept as much help as possible.
- Ask the foster carer to label all the children’s clothes and toys to avoid confusion and distress after the move.
- Don’t expect to instantly love your aliens – it may not happen.
- Do what feels right for you and the children – for example it’s ok not to keep in contact with the foster carers.
- Be kind to yourself – this is a great adventure and there are highs and lows.
The long term outlook is fantastic, the children are very settled and the whole family loves them but not as much as you!
Love, Fiona x