5 Lessons I’ve learned about adoptive parenting

They may not have my eyes. They may not have my smile, but they have all my heart.

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This morning, my daughter came bounding down the stairs just after 8am. She was smiling and we hugged each other good morning before she reached over and hugged her dad and they did this kind of ‘head butt’ thing while she said “Charge! Charge!” and they both laughed, unsure what the game was even about.

At that moment, I thought back to this day, 4 years ago.

8 August 2016 was the first day of us waking up in the same house. I remember lying in my bed in the early hours of the morning, feeling the same as I used to when I woke up in a strange house after a sleepover – more scared than excited and having to convince myself it was all fine. I remember lying there, realising I really knew nothing about these two children who were now mine.

That morning, their foster carer arrived early so she was here when they woke up. The children were just 7 and 17 months old respectively and they needed someone familiar to help them feel safe as they woke in an unfamiliar house with strangers who were now Mummy and Daddy.

Despite all the preparation and meetings, training and briefings nothing could remove the awkwardness.

Today, Max – my youngest – came into our bedroom at 6am to fetch his dad so they could play together but before they headed to his bedroom, he climbed onto our bed to offer me the fan from his room so I wouldn’t be too hot in the night. On that morning, 4 years ago, he cried if I went near him. It took almost 2 years before he showed any real happiness to be with me.

The road between that morning and this one has been tough!

Here are 5 important lessons I’ve learned since that first morning:

  1. Everything you do to connect with your kids makes a contribution – even if you can’t see it at the time.
  2. Attention trumps everything else. Give it freely.
  3. When you encounter challenges, the learning required is yours not theirs.
  4. You can only help them if you are strong enough. You have to learn what makes you stronger and do that.
  5. You are enough. So are they.

If you’re new to adoption and have questions about my experience, please feel free to contact me. I found the advice of more experienced adopters massively helpful at the start of my journey and would be happy to help you as you navigate yours.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

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