As an adoptive parent, we have a lot to contend with.  First there is the heartache and grieving that many adopters have as they come to terms with the fact for one reason or another they cannot have birth children, then there is the ‘process’ we have to go through to adopt (how many embarrassing questions can you think of and how many exes will they insist on contacting for character references – because my ex really has positive things to say about me!!!), then there is the waiting for the right kids, and sometimes (although not in all circumstances) there are false starts (kids reviewed that for one reason or another will not be suitable ) and then there is the waiting to actually meet the kids who will be coming home with you.  It’s a long, hard, soul wrenching journey.

Once the placement happens however, the real issues arise.  Suddenly you’re facing off against an angry, scared, unhappy, shut down child or in the case of sibling sets – most likely all these things!

But by far and away the WORST thing I’ve had to endure yet, was last Saturday.

After a VERY hard few days with Owl and ever increasing bad behaviour, shutting down, withdrawing – we KNEW something was wrong.   We pleaded, cajoled, cuddled, and generally encouraged Owl to let us in. Finally there was a crack – it was, they confessed, because they wanted to know WHY their birth family did not write back.  Owl has been aware since day 1 that we write to the birth family through contact; they know this because from the moment they moved in they were VERY concerned that their family didn’t know where they were and how to reach them (perhaps partly because they were half expecting them to ‘rescue’ them at any minute), we of course reassured them that we do write and we will always do so, and that they too can write, give a picture etc.  We’ve also had to advise Owl that the birth family don’t write back despite promises that they would.  So after much build up the crack showed and we again could talk to Owl about it.

Owl was adamant they wanted to write to the birth family, but scared we wouldn’t let them.  We immediately got out the pen and paper and wrote.  After a couple of halting sentences Owls’ little face screwed up and I knew they needed to write their question down – so I said “did you want to ask them anything” and they said “yes”.  Owl started to write the question in their heart “WHY”  – whilst they went on to write “don’t you write back” I know it’s so much more than that and for Owl it haunts them.  “WHY did this happen to me”, “Why didn’t you love me enough to take care of me the way a child needs”, “Why couldn’t you put me first”.

We again reassured Owl that if they still don’t write back – it’s not their fault.  Perhaps it’s too sad for them (OK – personal feelings here – I GET SO ANGRY that they still can’t even put Owl first just once to reassure them that they know their safe, happy and OK and that it’s OK for Owl to be happy).

Owl has articulated many times how they wished NONE of this ever happened.  They wish they never had to be taken away, they wish they lived with their birth family and most of all they wish they didn’t have to live with a new family.  Owl has said they KNOW they are better here where they get all the things a growing child needs, love, food, safety – but still they wish more than anything that this NEVER HAPPENEND.

And really who can blame them.  It’s been a traumatic start to our little family.  My husband and I went through trauma getting to the point where we could even adopt, and Owl & Lark – well it’s been so horrible for them.  It breaks my heart to think of all the things they missed out on, the fear and pain they must have felt.

So we haven’t really learned anything this week – except that for all of us it’s going to be a long journey and that despite being a proper family in ever real sense of the word – we’ll always have that little bit around the edge that occasionally is going to need a bit of ironing out.