So I missed the shout out last week on The Open Nest…. It was asking for blogs about how far you’ve come.

This is an interesting topic given that in some ways as I feel that in we’ve not come far in respect of external service providers….. especially as on Friday we’re having a practitioners meeting with Post Adoption SW’s, the School, Owl’s life story counsellors etc….. trying to secure some extra counselling, funding help…. Anything for Owl. These discussions have the same lengthy, tiring feel as our approval process!!!

But in terms of the kids…..I look back at Owl and Lark and truly I am AMAZED at how far they’ve come. Owl and Lark will have lived with us for 2.5 years in May…. Where has the time gone?

They’ve gone from being little….. to well …… being bigger. From afraid of everything, to trying everything. It’s been an honour to watch them grow and change!

This past half term (February) we revisited Butlins. This was our family’s 3rd trip. It was the place we chose as our ‘first’ family holiday….. which was a quick mid-week break to introduce the idea of ‘holiday’ and ‘coming home’ about 8 months after they arrived.

That first trip didn’t go really well (anxiety reigned) and we didn’t do much. Just ate lots of fun foods (ice creams, burgers etc.) and let them do whatever they wanted and most of all tried to make it as fun as possible. It was literally (and a lot of you out there will know what I mean when I say it) LITERALLY a fight to get them to go on the little toddler rides. You know the mini-cups, or the mini cars, or the tiny bumpy ladybugs. These aren’t big rides, just really little ones, the kinds most kids normally BEG you to go on over and over. That first trip it was a whole lot of cajoling and encouraging. It also was the introduction of what I’ve taken to calling my ‘WALLACE AND GROMIT’ smile. You know the over exaggerated WELL DONE YOU smile – just so that there is NO misconception (from my hyper vigilant one) that we’re ANYTHING other than super super happy. Ten minutes after checking in and going to our room, Lark said ‘is this where we’re going to live now mummy?’ Luckily our SW had suggested that we take their ‘My New Family’ books (the ones we’d prepared for them PRIOR to meeting them at introductions). We spent 30 minutes revisiting the book and looking at the little calendar we’d drawn to count down the days till home. By the end of the holiday we were all worn out!

The 2nd year was, well, harder in many respects – unfortunately I had been quite ill in the lead up to the trip. I had actually ended up in hospital for a night … which was immensely tough on our burgeoning attachments. Although we were in the same place…. Of course we were not in the same rooms, the food was different… even the rides in the fairground were different. So whilst there was some familiarity there was also anxiety around the changes. We made the best of it and certainly when it went in their ‘year’ [see note below] books both kids were so excited to see the piccy’s and commented about what a GREAT holiday that had been.

[Our ‘year’ book is a book I prepare every year detailing their full year with pictures, their art, achievements, etc. which we present them on the anniversary of their moving in date.]

This year however, there was GREAT joy – it’s the 3rd time. They are both totally confident with the layout and were ‘excited’ to see what rides were in the fairground this time! We attended more shows, and this time both REALLY enjoyed the variety. We tried new family games, like bowling, as they are old enough to play them now! We all also LOVED the pool. Owl and Lark actually asked to go on the flumes – rather than it being necessary for us to cajole! It’s such a pleasure now.

Looking back that first year was so hard. Owl and Lark were TERRIFIED of everything and well honestly we felt out of our depth. Whereas now, we’re all fairly comfortable, they know the rules and know we’ll be consistent and we know them!

I was at a course on last Friday with other adopters (about building self-esteem in your child) and I was reflecting how when they first arrived it was so hard as we didn’t know the kids at all. One of the hardest things was learning when they were sickening. It took about 8 months to realise Owl goes PALE when ill, although he also goes pale when he’s scared so sometimes it’s hard to tell and certainly when Owl first arrived we got it wrong a couple of times for sure!!! And Lark well they’re always GRUMPY both when they’re tired or sickening. It’s taken a couple of years but we’re getting there and we’re learning the subtle differences!

That may sound strange to people with birth kids…. But I’d ask you to throw your mind back to your first baby… that first year….. when you had your new born and you forgot them in the car seat (because you were so tired you couldn’t think any more) or you didn’t have time to do the laundry or the dishes , or you told your child they were FINE and then they vomited up on your shoes….. you got a free pass – your child could barely speak and certainly as it happened before 2 years of age (when the hippocampus hadn’t developed) – they won’t even remember!!! Whereas adoptive parents, we go through the SAME mistakes, learning curves, fatigue induced mistakes but our kids are already walking, talking …. And boy do they let you know it!!!

So how far have we come….. to the moon and back! We’re so EXCITED to see where the next 3 years will take us!