Life Goes On

I thought I’d take a minute or two to climb off the rollercoaster that we’ve been riding for the last 22 months

Twenty two months. That’s nearly two years! How on earth did that happen? Yet in that 22 months we, as a little family unit, have gone from strength to strength.

My daughter is simply amazing. She’s feisty yet fun, confident and strong, independent but wants me there and, above all, she’s happy. Not all the time. Granted, she’s a three year old who takes everything the wrong way and has a flip out at the merest of mentions of bedtime/having to go out/in/having to stay sitting/having to get up. You get the picture. Normality right?

Except it’s really not for us on a deeper level. Yes, we treat our daughter exactly how I always expected to treat a child, with huge amounts of love, respect for them, discipline and with consistent, non faltering boundaries in place. Yet there is always going to be a deeper level of understanding that needs to be there for our daughter. She is wise and knowing beyond her years. She swings from being a three year old who’s incredibly in touch with her own and others feelings to wanting to be a baby and be babied. I can hear the shouts from here of “but that’s “normal”” and of course it is. But for our daughter it’s so important that we listen to those cues because she was never babied as a baby by us. She still needs that, to fill in that missing link to us.

She’s now three and she sometimes chooses to act like a baby. To the point where she even “waah’s” like one while being cradled by one of us. I can see it in her eyes. She wants to be grown up on one level but on another she just can’t get enough of what she missed out on in those first early months. And that’s with being in a caring foster placement. How do these families and children cope when they’ve suffered abuse and neglect on top of the lack of comfort and love that all children should get as babies.

I’m not perfect. I get it wrong sometimes. At the moment I feel like I’m constantly apologising for shouting and snapping and getting cross. Fortunately, because we make sure we do say sorry when we’re in the wrong she does accept our apologies and then it works the other way. She says sorry too. But it’s bloody hard. At the moment I’m exhausted just from continually being aware of everything and keeping an eye on the situation.

Several people have asked me recently if she’s settled. And, of course, she is. Very. And our attachment is phenomenal. But that’s because I was determined at the start to do it our way and only have us look after her and pick her up, comfort her and care for her. Yet, only today, I took her swimming and an over enthusiastic mother came over to us and started getting all excited because Pickle can swim so encouraged her to swim with her away from me. And she went. Pickle left me and swam with a complete stranger. I kept incredibly close and didn’t let me out of her sights. And this woman wasn’t about to abduct her. That’s not my worry (well ok, of course that worries me but where’s she going to take her in a swimming pool!) my worry is why does she find it so easy to go off with someone she’s never ever met in her life? Is it that she trusts everyone? Because that’s not good. Is it because she was in a foster family that ran their life like piccadilly circus and everyone and anyone would pick my daughter up and that’s stayed with her? Is it ingrained in her that “everyone is ok and I can trust them” because of that situation she was in for 15 months? A lot of people have (dared) to say to my face “but she won’t remember, she was too young”. Anybody who has adopted will understand my complete irritation (and anger) towards this attitude. I wonder whether the people saying it wouldn’t be affected by being taken away from, not just one but, two “mothers” and then placed with a third. Even at 15 months old you remember the feeling of being taken away I’m sure of it. And my daughter displays signs of this all the time and now she verbalises it as well. “Don’t leave me mummy” and “mummy gone” and “baby gone”. And everything she plays with, be it toys, food, stones, twigs, you name it, becomes a mummy and a baby and the baby always loses the mummy and becomes sad and then they’re reunited and baby becomes happy again. Every. Single. Time. Now let those people tell me that children don’t know.

I decided a while ago that I would stop trying to explain to people the intricacies of adoption and what legacies it leaves behind and the damage and the effects of it are. I gave up because people don’t want to know and they don’t believe it. I learned not long ago that people hear it as a competition, “my child is more special than yours” and I get told when talking about certain behaviours and worries that “that’s not just pickle, all children are like that/feel that/do that”. But I know differently and I understand that others don’t get it. So I learned to keep my mouth shut. Now, when people ask if she’s settled, I simply say “Yeah, she’s doing great”. I only open up to the people who understand and get the whole picture, not just the bits they want to get.

Even close friends and family find it difficult to grasp that pickle is still adopted. People forget. And although it’s important for us to live life without constantly reminding Pickle of adoption there is a huge importance to us all remembering.

Having said all that she’s doing really really well. We have a superb relationship where, actually, even if we’re snapping at each other (ie I shout stop it and she screams at the top of her lungs back at me) we are actually laughing about it within seconds. She screamed in my face the other night because I wouldn’t let her do something (putting her crappy plastic pink princess clippy cloppy shoes on in bed) and she sat up and screamed a belter an inch away from my face. I burst out laughing and she followed within a split second and then we couldn’t stop. We were literally rolling on her bed in hysterics and she kept recreating it and then we’d start again! You don’t manage that with a shaky relationship. It was brilliant. I’m so proud of her and how she handles everything. I just hope she continues to gain more and more strength to be the strong woman I just know she’s going to be.

And, with that, I’m going to leave now and get back on the rollercoaster of life. Erm, actually, I’m going to go to bed first

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