What would you have done differently?

Mirror

If you had your time all over again what would you have done differently?  We had this topic at our adoption support group last night and it was a really interesting and beneficial night.  It’s got me thinking what a great process it is to take the time and reflect on your adoption journey.  What went well?  What would you advise others to do?  What do you wish you’d have done/not done?

There were many similarities between peoples answers – the main themes seemed to be around taking more time together once you get the children, before you let them out in the world, as it were.  For example some would advise keeping the children out of school for a few weeks when you first have them to spend the time bonding together, take time to introduce extended family members instead of the big party thing and to take as much time as possible to build your relationship together as a small family unit.

All good advice.  So it got me thinking about my journey – what would I do differently?

Well before we had the children, during that long wait, I thought all the power was in the social workers hands.  We waited and waited and waited.  However once we realised that actually we have some power too as adopters, we started to push and find ways to move the process forward – this really helped and without it I think we could still be waiting for children now!

Something else that has surprised me is the amount of time it takes to get used to being a mum.  It’s a very strange process, we have had our children three years now – so it’s like being a mother for three years but our children are 7, 8 and 10.  They have their own little personalities, can talk back and have different needs to a three year old.  But for any of you who have birth children, or have friends who do, the feeling is different – you grow into the role as your baby grows and develops.  Being a mother is a gradual feeling but adopting means you get thrown into it without the time to adjust.  There’s nothing to change in this – but just to realise that is the situation, and that it takes time to feel and act like a mum.

The final thing I reflected on was just how different parenting adopted children is to parenting birth children.  People often ask me “is it what you expected?” and I can’t really answer that as I don’t know what I expected.  Sometimes I’m surprised and disappointed by things, other times I’m amazed at how easy it can be.  I do know though that understanding the issues for adopted children will be my life’s work now.  There are always new things to discover and realise about their challenges in life and I want to be the best parent I can to them.

So what are your reflections?  What would you do differently and what would be your nuggets of wisdom for others on their journey?  Above all I want to say what a brilliant experience adopting is.  My kids are great – I love them and have the greatest compassion for them and their lives.  I only hope we can help them break the cycle they have come from and be the best adults and parents they can be in the future.

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