It'S Serious Shit, Adopting
0 comment Tuesday, June 10, 2014 |
A year and a half ago I became a mother to two adopted children of primary school age. As something new started everything else stopped. My work stopped. My blogging stopped. Some of my friends stopped. What I wanted on the TV stopped. A good night's sleep stopped. Relaxing stopped. Swearing stopped. Eating proper food stopped.
But the kids made everything worth it. They shuffled shyly into their new home and just loved everything about their new life with their new mummy and daddy. The house was filled with their sunny laughter and the days were stuffed full of cuddles and kisses. At night, me and my husband would put the children to bed and they'd say to us 'oh mummy and daddy, thank you so much for all the things you do for us, I am so happy.' And we'd kiss them on the head and say 'Love you to the moon and back' and they'd smile as they closed their eyes to slip effortlessly into happy sleep.
Bollocks, was that how it was.
The thing about adopting children is that they are traumatised. They are traumatised from their life with their birth parents, traumatised from being taken away from them, and traumatised from being sent to live with people they don't know, but who they have no choice but to entrust their life to.
And children who are traumatised are angry, sad, grieving and scared. And none of these emotions are expressed in particularly sympathy inducing manner. Traumatised children don't look up at you with big teary eyes and go 'mummy, I'm scared, I'd like a cuddle'. Children who are traumatised scream at you, they act defiantly, they deliberately break things, they freak out because you've given them a different brand of cereal to the one they want and sit screaming in your hallway.
For a long time, nothing was as it should be. For example, a family walk in the park was comparable to a horror film. Imagine being in a cemetery at midnight and a pair of small hands shoot out of the earth and grab desperately at your hands; a lost soul is grasping at you to pull them out of the darkness and into the light. You are in the fight of your life. If you don't have the strength to pull them out they are going to pull you down into the earth's blackness with them. That's what a walk in the park felt like! I kid thee not! There was nothing sweet about the way those children held mine and daddy's hand; they fought for those hands as if they thought their lives depended on it.
Because these children know what danger is. They know what it is to have their life and soul in the hands of adults and be let down. They see mortal threats everywhere and cannot yet believe or trust that you will not forget or forgo them. That's what you're dealing with every hour of every day.
It's serious shit, adopting.
As a prospective adopter, you're trained to be realistic about what taking on a traumatised child can be like. You attend courses, read the books, talk to other adopters. Nothing can quite prepare you for the frontline battle when it comes, but at least you know that you will be needing courage and strength to see you through the first year. But everyone else? Family and friends whose nearest brush with adoption was knowing a bloke down the pub who was adopted in the 1960s? Well, they think you must be on cloud nine. They think you should be on cloud nine because you've got what you wanted and they do. not. want. to. know. any. different. That can be, erm, shall we say annoying. Thank goodness for the ones who weren't like that. Thank goodness for my good friends.
Anyway, I am happy to be able to report that a year and a half in, the levels of trauma have gone down and we manage a happy state in this home on a regular basis. We now have kids who eat and sleep well, who have made friends, and who have come some way along the line to trusting us as their parents. I have therefore decided that my husband, my children and I must all be AWESOME! There is no other explanation for it.
And so, with this in mind, I have taken up blogging again! Let's see if I can keep it up!