This week is National Adoption Week in the UK. Although the main focus this year is adoption of siblings, the general message is also of #SupportAdoption. Quite a few adopters have turned this around to give out the message that adoptive families also really need support (#ProvideAdoptionSupport.). This I think is primarily aimed at the formal support services (social service, healthcare etc), but it can also be aimed at the informal support services such as family, friends, voluntary agencies.
This post is about a glimmer of hope in our adoption story, and it focuses on some specific support (or seemingly lack of) that we’ve had. When we started the adoption process we had to identify our support network. I’ve heard it said that sometimes those who you assume may provide you with the most support are actually the ones who drop away once you adopt, and those who were on the periphery step up to be more available.
This is what has happened in our case, and it’s caused me a lot of hurt , pain and sadness. The time when I needed the support the most it wasn’t there, and to be honest this was sometimes harder to come to terms with than the difficulties of adoptive parenting. There has been a fair few tears shed and angry words said over this. I realise now that I was mourning the loss of a close and supportive relationship. It massively hurt that my cute baby niece (and she is adorable and cute) was seemingly loved more and got more attention. The ‘likes’ and lovely comments she attracted on social media compared with no acknowledgment of my sweet girl (yes ,shallow I know) really hit a tender nerve in me. Those people I turned to before in a time of need I felt no longer wanted to know how I was feeling.
Now I know there are reasons why these people have seemingly retreated from my life, and I have tried to deal and come to terms with it by trying to be empathetic and to see the picture from their side. I have really tired not to become bitter, and to try to re-connect.
BUT….there is a glimmer of hope in this situation, and I have faith that it will be ok in the end. Just recently we have been in slightly more contact, and I’ve been able to ask them some advice about some specific things. I hope that they feel wanted/needed/appreciated. I hope they feel that their voice/opinion matters. There are plans to meet up, to celebrate birthdays, to go out for meals. The contact feels more genuine, more natural. I know that it’s early days yet, and that this relationship needs to be slowly rebuilt. It may never be as great as it was before, but at the moment anything better than it was, would be amazing. I would love for my little girl to be loved by them, and for hem to realise she is very cute and adorable too, even if she is not a baby. I appreciate it’s hard for them, and am ready to do what I can to help.
So, to prospective adopters, be prepared for your perceived support network to change. Build it up as much as possible before/during the process. Support may come from the most unlikely to places/people, but embrace it, you need it!
To those supporting adoptive families, please, please don’t stop! Even if you don’t feel you can do it physically (e.g. meet up with the family), do it from a distance. You don’t know how much of a difference a quick text can make, it may brighten their day. Please don’t judge how we parent, it may look different to what you know, but there are reasons behind it, please do ask, we’d be very happy to explain, and maybe chat through some strategies together, it’ll probably help. Sometimes a view from someone detached from the relentless job of adoptive parenting can be just what’s needed if it’s shared in an supportive way.
And sometimes a surprise package of someone’s favourite chocolate in the post is the perfect way to put a smile on anyone’s face (thanks Dad). It demonstrates that sometimes no words (except the attached note saying ‘do not share’) is all thats needed to show someone you care about them.