Bye Daddy, See You Soon….

This last week my husband has been away in America, it was only 5 days & 5 nights, but it was the longest our little family has been apart. It was the first time our little girl had one parent away for more than a couple of nights. It was quite a big thing for us, we wondered how she would cope. She’s quite clingy to her Daddy at the moment, so this worried us. She doesn’t know how far America is, but to me it feel (it is!) a lot further away. You can’t just return home quickly if you’re needed in an emergency.

We needn’t have worried, husband returned home safely and we’ve had a really good, settled time at home. I thought it would be helpful to reflect on what went well & if it were to happen again, what might we do differently. Below are some of the things we did to help. I have to say I think the prep all paid off  it may have appeared over the top & too much, but for us it worked!

1) Timing of telling her Daddy was going to be away: We only told our daughter that Daddy was going away 2days before he went. This was so that she didn’t have time to get anxious about it. It did give her time to process it & for us to talk about it to provide reassurance if needed. We chose to tell her on a day she wasn’t at nursery so that we would be available to ask questions if needed.

2) Quality family time before & after: the before bit was planned. We made sure the normal Saturday morning jobs were done before hand. This meant we had time to go for a treat lunch out. When Daddy returned we actually ended up just cuddling on the sofa & watching a film together. We’d planned to make a welcome home cake, but little one randomly had a tummy ache, so we just snuggled. On a Thursday afternoon when we’d normally be busy was just bliss. I think it helped her feel really happy, relaxed and settled. We watched Beauty and the Beast (92 version), what a classic!

3) An exciting new toy: We bought our daughter a Paw Patrol teddy that sings as a special Daddy is going away present. Her sleep is not always great, so we thought something that might encourage her to sleep would be helpful. The teddy was going to be her new snuggle buddy when Daddy was away. It worked really well & she was pleased with her new friend. It helped distract a little from the feeling sad. This wasn’t to say that we didn’t recognise and acknowledge that she might feel sad or upset. She definitely did miss him, but I think that she’s well enough attached and settled to know that Daddy was always going to come back.

4) A little treat from Daddy each day:  Daddy left her a little present to unwrap each day. These were small treats such as sweets, bubbles, glow sticks. I think they helped her know he was thinking of her, and he wanted her to feel special each day.

5) Countdown chart and welcome home sign: When I was younger both my parents were away for periods of time & I remember not finding those times easy. I also remember making and using countdown charts and enjoying crossing off the days. We made ours for Daddy’s trip the morning he left. We had some new stickers (always a hit!) so she decorated it herself. We named days of the week because she has a good understanding of days of the week and a good concept of time. Every night before going up to bed we added a sticker to that day. It was a good visual way to show how much time was left before Daddy came home. When I was younger making the welcome home sign was also a highlight of the trip. I helped our daughter make ours the morning Daddy came home so it was up and ready.

6) Supportive family/friends: Both our families knew husband would be away, and both offered support. Although we only saw one set of grandparents once, it was great to know they were there if we needed them. The texts and phone calls were great. In the end we were fine, but it was reassuring to know that if it had all gone wrong, they would have been there to do anything we needed. It certainly helped me feel well supported and less alone. Some friends also knew, and offered support, so again it was helpful to know there were local people to be called on if needed.

7) keep busy/keep to routine: I think we got this balance about right. We managed to do everything we would normally do, as well as a couple of added extras that just happened to fall last weekend. It was helpful to have some distractions from missing Daddy. Also to get us out of the house and to be with other people. It kept us busy, helped us enjoy the sunny weather, and made Little One lovely and tired so she fell asleep quickly at the end of the day. I think if we hadn’t had had the extra acirivities I think I would have planned a couple in to fill a bit of time and have some treats.

8) Keep in contact: I am amazed by modern technology and how it helped us stay in touch. We sent messages everyday. We could send photos so Little One could actually see where Daddy was and what he was doing. We could also video call a few times too which was great. We specifically didn’t promise a phone call every day as we didn’t know if/when we’d be able to. This was Little One wasn’t too disappointed or feel let down when it didn’t happen.

9) Swap a toy: my husband and daughter swapped a small soft toy that each of them looked after. The idea was that it would reinforce the fact that Daddy would be coming back as he’d have to bring the toy (Tiger) back. As someone else suggested, the toy that my Husband gave to Little One was ‘loaded with hugs and misses’ so every time she hugged him it was like getting a hug from Daddy. To be honest, I’m not sure she was too bothered about having his toy, although she did bring it out with us on the first day & it slept in her bed. She did enjoy seeing the photos of Tiger doing things and going places with Daddy. Just don’t do what Daddy did and leave the toy in the hotel at the airport. He had to ring them and say ‘I left my Tiger in bed’ He said the staff were a bit confused. He had to go back to get Tiger, luckily they found him!

10) Plan ahead: By this I mean, aim to get any household jobs (eg cleaning, shopping) done before the big trip. This worked well for us as it meant I didn’t have to worry about the added pressure to get those done. It meant that on the Saturday that Daddy went we could relax a bit and watch the Royal Wedding together. Any time during the trip that I had was spent either with Little One or just winding down myself in the evening. To make it easier I planned really easy & quick to prepare meals. This generated minimal washing up at the end of the day, so made that job much more bearable.

11) Look after yourself: Having to be a lone parent when you normally do it as a couple is not easy, so it’s important to look after and treat yourself too. I had my favourite  ‘grown up tea’ one evening & watched a film I’d wanted to see for ages. I failed on getting enough sleep or going to bed early and stayed up far to late most nights. I blame the lack of anyone telling me to go to bed/sleep on that one.

On reflection, I don’t think we’d do anything different if there was a next time. We might tone down the presents/treats as she probably didn’t need them all really. However, I don’t think you can over prepare on these sort of things. Parents know their children best, and how they are that time, so they know what their child needs. There may well be some fallout from the trip in the next few days as Little One processes the last few days, but for now I’d say this trip has been a massive success!

*An additional strategy we used on a previous trip was that my Husband and Daughter wore matching (both fruit print) socks. The idea was that if they missed each other they could simply just look at their socks and think of each other. We weren’t organised enough this time to do it, but for a short overnight trip it did seem to work well.


I’ve noticed recently that there has been a bit of discussion and debate around the fact that there are different voices, or viewpoints being heard and expressed in the adoption world.

Adoption is a very complex thing, and it involves many many people, and so of course there are going to be many different voices all wanting to speak and to be listened to. I’ve noticed that sometimes these voices can clash with each other because they come from opposite sides of the story. An example of this is the adoptive parents and the (adult) adoptees. This ‘debate’ is for me very interesting because as an adult adoptee and an adoptive parent, I can put myself very much in both ‘camps’

I was adopted at 16months old, as a relinquished baby in Asia in the late 1980’s. I am now in my early 30s. I have a 4year old little girl who was adopted nearly 2years ago, from the UK care system. Our experiences and stories are massively different, but we do have a shared identity in being adopted. I hope that when she’s older we can make this a positive part of our relationship.

I have always known I was adopted, I can’t remember a time I didn’t know. My mum tells me that I drip fed appropriate information as I grew up, so that by the time I was old enough to really understand adoption, nothing of my story was new or a surprise. We are trying to take this approach with our little girl. At the moment her life story work is very basic and sporadic. It’s mostly led by her and talked about on her terms because thats all she needs right now. When she’s older she may need some more support to explore and understand her story. As adoptive parents we are fully committed to supporting and helping her to make sense of who she is. We want her to know that it’s ok to talk honestly about how she feels. We’d rather she did than keep it bottled up inside. If we can be open and approachable now, the hope is she will feel confident to share with us when she needs to.

I am very sure of my identity as an adopted person, and I feel very happy and content with this. I know who my family is, and feel very much part of it, and hugely loved. I have no desire to find my birth family (it would be pretty much impossible anyway). Most of the time I forget I’m adopted because although it’s made me who I am, it does not define me. When I meet new people I don’t tell them I’m adopted. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s just not something that’s really relevant to everyday life. It’s the same with my little girl, we don’t announce her adoption to everyone. For a start it’s her story to tell, not ours, and when she’s older she can decide what she wants people to know.

Although I’ve had a very positive experience of adoption, and I’m very grateful for being adopted I totally understand that some adoptees have a different view. I hope that my daughter will feel the same way, but I am preparing myself for the chance that she won’t feel the same. I understand why some adoptees feel so much anger, pain, grief hurt. You can’t have adoption without loss, and loss brings all of those things. All parties experience loss in adoption. The child, they lose their birth family. Birth family lose their child. Adoptive families often come from a background of loss. Many adoptive families also have to grieve a loss of the family or parenting experience they imagined. I get that some adoptee feel angry at their birth family for a number of reasons (e.g. abandoning them).

There are some things I struggle with though. One of these is anger and blame directed towards adoptive parents. Maybe it’s because its not something I’ve ever felt, so find it hard to imagine why someone would have these feelings, but blaming them for their struggles seems unfair to me.  In the UK children come to adoption through the care system. They’ve been removed from birth families because it was not safe for them to remain there. Adoptive families go through extensive assessment to assess their ability to parent children who are likely to have experienced a high level of trauma in their young lives. Adoptive parents are (usually) not to blame for these difficulties, they didn’t cause the trauma. All the adoptive parents I know do their very best for their children. They support them in every way possible. They love them fiercely. They know that ‘love does not fix everything’, and yet they still love. They support their child to find their own identity, and work with them to put the pieces of their lives together (e.g. life story work, contact). I don’t think they see themselves as ‘superior’ parents, in fact, most I know spend a lot of their time over analysing their parenting and doubting themselves.  I do appreciate that there are some exceptions to the rules, and I know that adoptive parents have their flaws too.

I do think thats it’s really important for more voices to be heard in adoption. For adoptive parents to listen to what adoptees have to say. You can’t truly understand what it’s like to adopted unless you are. I think it would be helpful for parents to prepare themselves for what their child may feel or think when they grow up. This way they can prepare themselves to learn how to try and help their child. For them to acknowledge that those feelings are real, and not to dismiss them.  For adoptees to listen to adoptive parents, to understand some of their equally valid feelings. For them to remember that parents are at the end of the day people  too, so they’re not perfect and may slip up at times. That most of them are trying their absolute hardest to do their absolute best.

To conclude, I feel it’s really important to remember that everyone is different, and are entitled to have their different opinions, and thats ok too.