How we came to adopt
With the advance of 40, with time ticking over, settling the issue of becoming a parent (or not) gained importance.
What did we want? How far were we prepared to go? We were keen for parenthood and adopting was something my husband and I had separately considered. In the end, adopting felt the most right (although we had to follow the tried and tested path before allowing ourselves this conclusion).
The Assessment Process
How does one describe this experience!? We went in knowing full well that there would be lots of probing questions. Our view of this process was that the more upfront and authentic we were, the easier it would be for a suitable match to be determined. It was also an opportunity to confirm this was what we really wanted… and that we were suited to adopting. It was intense, but worthwhile.
A year after our first assessment visit, days before we were due to attend panel for approval as prospective adopters; we received notification of a possible match. Oh my!!! We were excited and petrified all at the same time – here was this adorable little face peering at us from the page, and as we looked into her eyes and were caught up by her contagious smile we thought… why not?
Another 2 months on and we were approved as a match for this dear little girl. She was just over 2 years old and 2 weeks later Samantha has her first night of forever.
Woo Hoo!! We were ready for this… or were we!?
Our “new” life…
As much as we thought we were prepared, as any new parent I’ve met will say… nothing can prepare you for the reality of parenthood.
Overlay this with factors such as the sell we did to promote our ability and desire to both parent and adopt, the unexpected speed at which a match was identified and the whirlwind of making a decision to proceed without having met Samantha.
I think we were to some extent, numb with shock. It was surreal… we had ‘fought’ for this and now our dream of parenthood was becoming a reality.
The transition period was traumatic for all involved. Additionally this was a huge life change for my husband and I; from being a couple of our mid 40s, free to do as we pleased, to having this dependent little person, a grieving stranger who was also entering the “terrible two’s”.
Samantha seemed to do everything to extreme – inconsolable tantrums that sometimes lasted for 90 minutes, there were aggressive behaviours and behaviour that seemed to say – “I am bad” (was this angry little person truly who she was?)
I was triggered and reacted in a way I didn’t predict. This was not the parent I wanted to be. Meanwhile, due to unforeseen circumstances, the support network we had built prior to Samantha’s placement; crumbled. My husband and I felt we couldn’t complain about how tough we were finding it; after all we had decided to go the adoption path knowing it may well be full of challenges. We had said we could do it!
Thankfully I had set up regular group therapy as I went through the assessment process, so i had a forum to express how I felt which helped me to learn my reaction was common, also for birth parents. Another saving grace was the friendship that was developing with another adoptive couple we had met during our pre-adoption workshop; we were meeting weekly with out toddlers. this was massively helpful and our friendship continues to be so. It must be noted that was help from all directions – once we put our hands up!
Eighteen months on from that first forever night… we are at last feeling somewhat in control of our lives. I am learning to juggle being a mum, a wife and to be me. I have relaxed my expectations so I am not so harsh on myself – I now realise this will be a lifelong learning process as we go through all the various developmental stages.
As we became more attuned to Samantha’s needs rather than focussing on our fears, she too relaxed. We are no longer pushed away, she gives hugs like no-one we’ve ever known – they are the best! She continues to be expressive, but now we get it and love her for it.
Our Samantha is an absolute delight! She has snuck her way right into our hearts and we are as proud as can be of how she is evolving to make her mark in our little family. We feel incredibly blessed!